Dustin McGowan - what everyone is talking about is he might make the starting rotation after multiple injuries. What's more important is how good his stuff has been looking. But the biggest news? He had a normal offseason and will be able to throw between starts this year. Last year I was wondering why his offspeed pitches lacked bite and consistency - then we found out that he wasn't able to throw between starts. He is still a longshot but the upside seems to be back.
Brett Cecil - It's not only Phil Hughes that lost weight this offseason. Last year he came into camp fat and was down in velocity. He is in better shape this year, lets see if some of the velocity is back.
Brandon Morrow - He is focusing on making his curve his primary out pitch. I like this. Last year it was the slider which was great for getting K's. But Morrow has some trouble getting in-zone strikes on it. This year his slider will become more of his two strike pitch. If he can consistently get strikes on his curve expect to see his K rate drop but most of his other peripherals to improve. This could be a big year for him. I don't expect this to be the year he becomes an ace, but I could see him pitching more like a #2 should (but with #3 numbers due to the AL East).
Henderson Alvarez - Last season saw him change from a slider to a cutter. Farrell doesn't like to call it a cutter just a shortened slider since the grip is so similar and are just variations of each other. Alvarez put up fantastic numbers but he needs something to move to the left. It looked like the slider wasn't going to work, it just wasn't consistent enough. Hopefully this cutter can do the trick. My two biggest questions about him would be whether he can master the cutter and how he deals without an eye-level changing pitch. The cutter doesn't have to be special but it does need to be both consistent and have some late shape. If he can be a #3 pitcher this year the Jays would be thrilled, I'm just hoping for a #4 type guy.
Jesse Litsch - looks like more injury woes for him unfortunately
Adeiny Hechavarria -he is getting work at 2B. The TBJ brass still sees him as a shortstop but he is considered their number one middle IF call-up if there is a substantial injury. Or in case Kelly Johnson sucks. According to reports his D has been fantastic at short. I could see Hechavarria getting the call at some point this year, injuries happen and who knows what they will get out of Johnson.
Travis Snider - has looked good so far but breaking balls were a problem for him in the past and this early in spring pitchers are not consistent. I hope he finally breaks out.
Brett Lawrie - defense continues to improve. Before last season he was considered questionable to make the switch to 3B and was solid last year with some flashes of brilliance but also some sloppy mistakes. He continues to improve and many see him becoming a plus defender.
Their starting pitching will be better but unless Morrow or someone really steps up to the #2 role it won't be a big improvement. The bullpen will be light years better. It's not that Sergio Santos is a "closer" but that he is dominant and the innings 7 and 8 should have solid guys filling it. Last year mop-up guys filled key roles. I could see the hitting improve especially if Snider breaks out, or Lind doesn't have a second half swoon, or Rasmus plays like he is capable of.
I don't see the playoffs for them: that division is too good and they have too many questions. Also their minor league system is fantastic but a little ways away from helping them. If they are truly in the hunt then maybe they could parlay some minor league talent into MLB help.