Diving into the depths: Toronto Blue Jays

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Toronto Blue Jays
Rotation
1. Shaun Marcum
2. Ricky Romero
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Mark Rzepczynski
5. Brett Cecil
6. Scott Richmond
7. Brian Tallet
8. David Purcey
9. Dustin McGowan
10. Robert Ray
11. Brad Mills
12. Kyle Drabek
13. Zach Jackson
14. Zach Stewart
15. Lance Broadway
16. Reidier Gonzalez
Of course, they’re not all serious threats for the rotation, but the Jays always manage to go through some pitchers. They’ll enter spring with three spots pretty much set, and Rzepczynski should be the clear favorite for the fourth.
McGowan is supposed to be ready to pitch this spring after missing most of the last two years, but odds are that he’ll begin the year rehabbing in the minors. Drabek should be a factor come June or July, and Jesse Litsch, who is on the way back from Tommy John surgery, could join the rotation after the All-Star break.
Bullpen
1. Jason Frasor
2. Scott Downs
3. Casey Janssen
4. Brian Tallet
5. Jeremy Accardo
6. Jesse Carlson
7. Shawn Camp
8. Josh Roenicke
9. Dick Hayhurst
10. Zech Zinicola
11. Zach Jackson
12. Luis Perez
13. Sean Henn
14. Willie Collazo
Everyone in the top nine here is a holdover from last year. The Jays have relief depth to part with in trade if they want to go that route. As is, they wouldn’t seem to have room for Roenicke or Hayhurst unless Tallet finds himself back in the rotation. Frasor and Downs, though, are both free agents after the season, and Accardo, who wanted to be non-tendered last month, would still like to move on to a team that would grant him a bigger role.


Catcher
1. John Buck
2. Raul Chavez
3. J.P. Arencibia
4. Kyle Phillips
5. Brian Jeroloman
First base
1. Lyle Overbay
2. Adam Lind
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Jarrett Hoffpauir
4. Mike McCoy
Third base
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Jose Bautista
3. John McDonald
4. Mike McCoy
5. Brett Wallace
Shortstop
1. Alex Gonzalez
2. John McDonald
3. Brian Bocock
The Jays have filled two of the three holes in their lineup, but Buck and Gonzalez aren’t more than stopgaps. Worse, they’re not just filling in for a year while younger talents develop. Arencibia has been a bust since being drafted 21st overall in 2007, and the Jays’ best catching prospect now is likely Travis D’Arnaud, a 20-year-old picked up in the Roy Halladay deal. At shortstop, Toronto has to hold out hope that Justin Jackson will learn to hit. Neither D’Arnaud nor Jackson figures to be a factor until 2012.
Left field
1. Travis Snider
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Jose Bautista
4. Joey Gathright
5. Chris Lubanski
Center field
1. Vernon Wells
2. Joey Gathright
3. Jose Bautista
4. Jorge Padilla
Right field
1. Jose Bautista
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Joey Gathright
4. Jorge Padilla
Designated hitter
1. Adam Lind
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
The thinking earlier this winter was that Overbay would be traded and Lind would be tried at first base. That doesn’t seem likely to materialize now, and the Jays might just keep Lind in the DH role in preparation for eventually turning first base over to Wallace.
Right field is the biggest remaining question mark. I wouldn’t mind seeing Encarnacion out there, with Bautista or a free agent at third. However, there’s been nothing to suggest it might happen. The Jays will probably sign a cheap veteran (Rick Ankiel?) and push Bautista back into a bench role.
Since the Jays haven’t addressed their outfield at all, it does look like Snider is safe. The Jays wanted to force him to win the job in spring training, but it looks like the competition will be less than stellar.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.