Line-Up: From top to bottom the Jays really are a solid hitting team, and much of this should be credited to Cito Gaston and his coaching staff. The team seems to be prepared for everyone they face and that is something that has not been there in recent years. Marco Scutaro and his solid OBP have been a catalyst for the offence and he sets the tone for the rest of the guys. Aaron Hill has returned from his post-concussion syndrome and elevated his game to be one of the most threatening hitters in the league, something the fans have been waiting for since he was drafted of LSU. Alex Rios has not gotten off to a great start to say the least but his game will come with the warmer weather. Vernon Wells has been steady and I am confident he will put together a 25 hr, 100 rbi season with double digit steals while continuing to give Adam Lind ample opportunity to drive in runs. Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay and Rod Barajas need to be more consistent in order for Lind to continue seeing pitches to hit and give Travis Snider opportunities to drive in runs. Snider himself is going to go through many ups and downs this summer and Cito needs to show confidence in him and run him out there 5 days a week but I don't see that being a problem for the cerebral manager. Overall this offence should be in the top 5 in runs scored at seasons end.
Starting Pitching: Where to being. Well, Roy Halladay has surprised nobody with his league tying 6 wins to go with a 3.29 ERA. Everytime he toes the rubber, the Jays are a favorite to win. With injuries to MacGowan and Marcum to start the season there was much talk about who would fill their spots out of camp and Scott Richmond has taken the ball and run with it. Ricky Romero was looking very good until an injury derailed him. Look for him to return in the next couple weeks and pick up where he left off. Like Snider he will have his moments of inconsistency but when he is on he is very good. Jesse Litsch should return in early June and send Tallet back to the pen, if the Jays choose to keep him in the rotation once Romero returns. Brett Cecil is showing why he was so highly touted and could stick even when Litsch returns, but Casey Janssen is looking good in his minor league rehab and he could have an impact on the decision, or he could rejoin the bullpen. Robert Ray is simply holding a spot for the time being and he will be demoted once one of the injured starters returns. Long-term it looks like MacGowan could miss the entire season and share the same fate as Shaun Marcum. There is the possibility that one of these guys or Cecil/Romero could be a part of a package to land the Jays Jake Peavy. It has been talked about and the Jays seem to be a front-runner since they seem to have a stockpile of young starters, which the Padres would need to move Peavy.
Relief Pitching: B.J. Ryan making a trip to the DL was not surprising. His velocity was down out of training camp and he was not pitching up to the standards of a closer on a winning team. Scott Downs has done a great job filling in and when Ryan returns, Downs has proven to be a solid set-up guy. Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor are good bridge guys to get to the Downs/Ryan combination and Brandon League has shown he knows how to get outs. Tallet is a good situational lefty when he is coming out of the pen or he can go multiple innings if needed. He will be a boon to the pen when he returns to that role.
Overall: Manager Cito Gaston and his coaching staff have shown that they know how to keep the hitters and the pitchers prepared. It is amazing that he was out of the game for so long, but he has not missed a step in his return. With the injuries hitting the starting pitching it is amazing to see the Jays on top of the best division in baseball coming up on the 1/4 point of the season. My expectation is for this team to battle with the powers of the AL East and be in a 3 team struggle for the wild card. I see one of the teams in this division distancing themselves slightly before September but the other 3 will be in a dogfight. Ultimately, injuries could haunt them later on if it is too taxing on the rest of the pitching staff.