Call me crazy. Call me stupid. You're probably right, but I'm predicting the Blue Jays will make the playoffs this year. I think Boston will finish first in the AL East, followed by Toronto, with the yankees in third. I would like to think that the Jays could even give Boston a push for first, but with a combination of their nasty rotation AND Papi/Manny I'd say the Sox have the advantage. I think the yankees still have their potent offense (although not nearly as scary as it's been in recent seasons) but it will be their pitching that will be their achilles heel. The only bomber pitcher I truly fear is young Joba-that kid's flat out scary. Mariano is still intimidating, but not nearly as much as he used to be. Wang, when he keeps that sinker down is also a force to be reckoned with, but if he's off he gets pummeled. The rest of the pitching staff is either unproven or over the hill. There's no way Mussina will win more than 12 games, and Pettitte will find the distractions of capital hill too much and will also submit a sub-par season. Hughes and Kennedy are intriguing, but I think the increase in innings will hurt them. Look for the yankee bats doing a lot of bailing pitchers out this season.
I think Toronto's pitching will continue where they left off at the end of last season, after the all-star break they had the 2nd best team ERA in baseball. For starters, The Jays boast Roy Halladay, who will come back with vengance after a season marred by appendicitis and poor run support. AJ Burnett has a chance to opt out at the end of this season and is arriving to camp healthy for the first time in years, so he should finally top his career high of 12 wins. Dustin McGowan. When this kids on, look out. Last season he spun a near no-hitter against Colorado, having to settle for a one-hitter in the ninth. The Jays 4th starter will be Shaun Marcum,(who also had a no-no going until getting pulled because of a pitch count) who can only get better. The fifth spot will most likely go to Jesse Litsch, who had an up and down season and finishd 7-9, which is damn good considering his age, the division he pitched in, and the fact that he started the season in playing AA ball. Bullpenwise, Look for a big, angry BJ Ryan staring you down in the ninth, he should be back if not opening day then a few weeks later. Stetting him up will be Jeremy "Baby Beej" Accardo, who stepped in quite well last year when Ryan went down.(2.14 ERA, 33 SVs in 64 games).If Casey Janssen ends up in the bullpen look for him in the 7th inning, with Scott Downs serving as a lefty specialist. Downs was key last year, with a 2.17 ERA in 81 games and was rewarded with a 10mil! for 3 years deal. We'll see this season if that was a fluke, or the real Mr. Downs. Well, that's it for my pitching predictions, part two of this post will deal with the Jays offense.