5 Players Who Must Stay Healthy For Toronto Blue Jays In 2014
5 Blue Jays Who Must Stay Healthy in 2014
After a disastrous 2013 campaign followed by an incredibly slow offseason, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been left to wonder what will happen when their team takes the field in their first regular season game in less than 90 days. Will all of the hype from the 2012-13 offseason return be due to solid play, or will it be the same old song and dance for the Blue Jays as they find themselves off to yet another slow start and occupying the basement of the competitive American League East?
Only time will tell for whether or not a lack of big-time moves this offseason will cost them a potential playoff spot or not, however, there is one major factor that the Blue Jays need to somehow find a way to avoid -- injuries. It seems as though the Blue Jays are ongoing sufferers of major injuries that result in the team, always trying to fight from the bottom to get back near the top or at least middle of the division.
This past season, the Blue Jays were once again riddled by the injury bug and saw a number of their key players shut down for the season or missing a significant number of games. Unfortunately for them, it's never the backup shortstop or a middle reliever who gets injured, it's always a marquee player who's absence will be felt on a severe level and on a day-to-day basis.
If the Blue Jays want to be competitive in the AL East throughout the duration of the season, they need to stay healthy. The lack of moves made by Alex Anthopoulos to bolster his club's pitching rotation has put them in a rough spot already. If they are once again nailed with a series of confidence breaking injuries, 2014 could be just as, and if not more, disastrous than 2013 was. Here are five key players that must stay healthy for the Blue Jays if the team wants to compete in the tough AL East.
5. Melky Cabrera
Melky Cabrera only appeared in 88 games for the Blue Jays in 2013. Now that the team gave up on valuable backup outfielder Rajai Davis, if Cabrera gets injured or fails to recover from offseason surgery, the Blue Jays will realize just how thin they really are when it comes down to outfield depth.
4. Brett Lawrie
Brett Lawrie has failed to play more than 125 games in each of his two full seasons with the Blue Jays. Lawrie is way too valuable on the defensive side of the ball to not play at least 140+ games. The energetic third baseman is also known to have a hot bat from time to time, so if he manages to take care of himself and not run into anything when playing his wild style of defense, he will be a huge everyday asset to the Jays' lineup, and may eventually have to make room for a Gold Glove Award in his closet.
3. Jose Reyes
Even though this will only be his second season with the Blue Jays, Jose Reyes is the heart and soul of the ball club. When he went down with a severe ankle injury after sliding feet first into second base against the Kansas City Royals last season, any legitimate fan of America's pastime could feel the pain Reyes was experiencing. He loves to play the game. If Reyes is able to stay injury free, and perhaps steal a total of 40+ bases, the Jays will be in business. Reyes is a top-notch shortstop that wants to play every single day. When he is healthy, it's very hard pressed for anyone to find a better a better player at the shortstop position.
2. Jose Bautista
There is no doubt that when he is healthy, Jose Bautista solidifies the heart of the order for the Blue Jays. However, since his two breakout seasons of 2010 and 2011, he has missed far too many games for the Jays and people are starting to wonder whether or not he is a dependable option in right field, as well as in the middle of the order. Bautista has been shut down the past two seasons due to wrist and hip issues ,and in order for the Blue Jays to be competitive, they will need their perennial slugger to put these issues behind him. If Bautista can regain that home run strength that he had only a couple of seasons ago and be healthy enough to play every day, the Jays will be a much better ball club all around.
1. Brandon Morrow
Brandon Morrow has often shown that he has the potential to throw Cy Young type stuff towards the plate every time he takes the mound for the Blue Jays. However, over the past two seasons, he has proven to be very injury prone, and like Bautista, people are starting to lose faith in him. If Morrow is able to stay healthy and get the firepower back in that arm that Blue Jays fans once had the pleasure of witnessing, he could easily be the ace of the staff in Toronto, or on any American League East team for that matter.
The Blue Jays' starting pitching rotation is clearly the weakest part of their team, but if Morrow is able to make a decent amount of starts and eat up enough innings like we all know he can, the Blue Jays will prove to be a contender in the AL East.
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