Blue Jays @ Yankees - April 1, 3-4

Thursday, April 01 2021 @ 12:02 PM EDT

Contributed by: #2JBrumfield

No more fooling around as the Blue Jays open their 2021 season in the Bronx. #BlueJays

Schedule/Probable Starters

Thursday at 1:05 pm EDT - Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Gerrit Cole
Saturday at 1:05 pm EDT - Ross Stripling vs. Corey Kluber
Sunday at 1:05 pm EDT - TBA (could be TJZ - T.J. Zeuch) vs. Domingo German

Anyone who missed the glorious Juan Graterol era during Spring Training in 2017 when he donned #69 may see him again in Blue Jay blue. The Jays acquired the 32 year-old Venezuelan from the Los Angeles Angels for cash after hitting .300 over nine games this spring. Toronto plucked Graterol off waivers early in 2017 before sending him back to the Halos. Graterol is a career .218 hitter over 124 at-bats in his major league career that has seen him play for the Angels, Twins and Reds from 2016-2019. He began his pro career back in 2005 when he signed as a free agent with Kansas City.

Will there be any baseball at the Dome in 2021?

#2JB - I predict they'll be back August 20 against Detroit but the fan attendance turnstile will be stuck at zero until 2022.

Magpie - I think that's a little optimistic, sorry to say.

Eephus - The little kid in me wants to imagine September baseball at the Dome (at limited capacity) with the team in the heat of a division race. The realist in me though thinks it's exceedingly unlikely we see this team in Canada until 2022, sadly.

Gerry - I think there will be baseball but sure about the fan attendance. I will say baseball will be back in late July with the majority of players vaccinated. Fans might get back in late August or September but thats a 50/50 proposition.

Are expectations too high for this team after making the playoffs in 2020?

#2JB - I think this team played over its head in 2020 and I'd be shocked if they return to the postseason in 2021. They were so sloppy with their defence and base running last season. They were playing at an 86-win pace last year but I think if the season was longer, they would have missed the playoffs.

Magpie - Probably, but I think those expectations are mostly held by the players themselves. And that's OK. I don't think fans are particularly engaged, at this point.

Eephus - I think it depends what you expect. If you're thinking "playoffs or bust" then you might be disappointed. They've got a shot, but seeing the young players continue to make positive strides even on an 84 win team certainly wouldn't be a disaster. 

Gerry - I think that often after a step forward teams take a breather the next year. That could happen with the Jays, plus the starting rotation does not look playoff worthy right now. Most expectations I see are for around 88 wins and a wild card spot. I don't think that is too ambitious, I see it as realistic.

Will George Springer live up to the mega contract he was given?

#2JB - The Springer era is off to a tough start already with his oblique injury putting him on the DL. Given the controversy surrounding him during his time with the *s when they cheated their way to a World Series title in 2017, he'll need to prove himself with his new club. At least Springer has made amends with his current teammate Ross Stripling, who was a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers who lost the World Series. Still, it sticks in my craw that Springer got richly rewarded for cheating.

Magpie - I think he'll have at least a couple of outstanding seasons in Toronto, and be no worse than playable by the end of his deal. Which is probably the cost of doing business.

Eephus - It'll be an overpay near the end, as most big free agent contracts are. As long as he's healthy, though, he'll be fine for a while. He's a top 8 MLB outfielder and elite players are the kind you spend big on.

Will Slim Daddy Vladdy reach 100 RBI?

#2JB - He showed up to spring training in shape and mashed the ball this spring. Sure, why not?

Magpie - I have a message for AL infielders. Be afraid. Be very afraid. You might want to think about backing up a little.

Eephus - I'm way more encouraged by his mobility. He looks quicker around the bases, even made some nice athletic plays at third and first (maybe he can actually be the backup 3B). It seems popular to predict a monster year with the bat but man, like Magpie said I wouldn't wanna play third base when he comes up.

Will Robbie Ray and Steven Matz extend their strong springs into the season?

#2JB - I can see Ray having a decent enough season but I'm wary of Matz. I'm usually concerned about acquiring pitchers from the National League because they are not as familiar with facing the beasts of the AL East. I've had this affliction since Joey Hamilton (thanks Dave Stewart!). Ray was the first pitcher to sign a free-agent deal in the off-season and his comfort level with pitching coach Pete Walker may lead to good things.

Magpie - Whereas I've always liked Matz, probably for no good reason, and I'm wary of Ray, I think both of them can extend their fine spring work into the season. Whether they actually will... do I look like Nostradamus to you? (Let me get my hair cut before you answer that.)

Will Nate Pearson pitch 100 innings this season?

#2JB - The good news is he is out with a groin injury instead of an arm-related one. Still, staying healthy is a skill as he did miss time after his MLB call-up last year with a flexor strain in his right elbow. He did reach the 100 inning mark in 2019 when he split the season in Dunedin, New Hampshire and Buffalo so he has done it before. If the Jays have any hope of contending, he'll need to reach the century mark in IP this year and I say he will reach it.

Magpie - Probably, but I'm reluctant to bet any of the money in your pockets on that proposition.

Eephus - I'm beginning to have concerns. Granted they mostly haven't been arm injuries, but guys who get hurt a lot tend to continue getting hurt a lot. If he gets to 100 innings though that would be a good counter-argument. Prove me wrong, Big Nate!

With Kirby Yates out for the year, who will lead the Jays in saves?

#2JB - I think it will be Jordan Romano. He did whiff nearly 13 batters every nine innings last year but so did David Phelps, who split last year with Philly and Milwaukee. I'd say Dolis would have a shot but he has a bad back right now.

Magpie - I would have expected Dolis to get first crack at the job - managers, and players, do like the idea of a Designated Closer. And I think Dolis would be good enough to hold keep the role. Romano may be 28 in three weeks, but he's effectively a rookie and I don't know if Montoyo is comfortable with going there. But making a rookie into The Closer has repeatedly worked out pretty well for this franchise, from Victor Cruz to Roberto Osuna, with people like Hall, Escobar, Koch, and Frasor along the way. 

Eephus - It might be a mishmash of guys at first (Dolis, Phelps, Chatwood, my sleeper pick Borucki) but eventually I think Romano claims the job. That or they trade for somebody in June.

Who will be the first player to get traded by the Blue Jays during the season?

#2JB - Tanner Roark for cash considerations.

Magpie - Randal Grichuk to the White Sox!

Who gets to the majors first? Alek Manoah or Simeon Woods Richardson?

#2JB - Manoah will be up after the trade deadline July 31. SWR will be up in September.

Magpie - Large Alek. He's not big, he's large.

Eephus - Mountain Manoah! Crazy take: Manoah closing games in September. Ah? Ah? It worked for Adam Wainwright.

Who gets to the majors first? Forrest Wall or Logan Warmoth?

#2JB - Warmoth. Don't discount the fact he was the Jays first pick of 2017.

Magpie - Why would anyone ask me? You think Warmoth? OK, I'll go with that.

Eephus - We could see Wall first if Springer is injured and Jon Davis just can't hack major league pitching. Unless it's September it's probably a bad sign if we see either.

How many wins will the Blue Jays get?

#2JB - I'm thinking between 78-82 wins.

Magpie - The franchise has had four 89 win seasons and four 86 win seasons. The tie must be broken, so I say 86.

Eephus - I think I said 89 in the other thing, so I'll stick with that. Health permitting, of course.

Playoff Predictions?

#2JB - AL - Yankees, White Sox, A's, Rays, Twins NL - Atlanta, Cards, Dodgers, Padres, Mets World Series - Dodgers over Yankees in 6.

Magpie - Like I have a clue. AL: Yankees, Twins, Angels, Astros, Rays. NL: Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres, Braves.  The AL playoff teams merge and form an All-Star squad to play the Dodgers. They get whipped anyway.

Biggest disappointment of offseason? No dedicated radio broadcast, the Jays inability to acquire starting pitching or other?

#2JB - Tie. Also disappointed the Jays' so-called High Performance department can't keep anybody healthy.

Magpie - I should be disappointed in the radio business, but I haven't actually had a working radio around the house for at least ten years. It's a little hard for me to honestly say I'm disappointed. So I merely disapprove. I'm more disappointed that chronic government impatience is likely going to screw up the chance of having any live baseball here in 2021.

Eephus - The radio stuff is very discouraging, kind of a middle finger to a big portion of the fan base for no legitimate reason. I'll echo the government impatience stuff Mags said as well.