March 29, 2018 6:00 am

Rick Zamperin: Unless healthy and lucky, Blue Jays won’t contend in 2018

The Toronto Blue Jays open the 2018 regular season Thursday afternoon at Rogers Centre.


The boys of summer are back.

Thursday is opening day in Major League Baseball, and it just so happens to be the earliest in league history.

All 30 teams are in action, including the Toronto Blue Jays, who open their season at home against the New York Yankees. First pitch, by the way, is 3:37 p.m.

Toronto will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this season.

The Yankees or Boston Red Sox will win the American League East and whichever doesn’t will claim one of the AL’s wild-card spots, leaving the Jays left to battle the L.A. Angels, Minnesota Twins, and — perhaps — the Seattle Mariners for the second wild card.

If Toronto can stay healthy, especially their starting pitchers, they’ll have a chance. But injuries could turn the Jays into a last-place ball club.

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Is Aaron Sanchez’s blister issue going to come back? Will Josh Donaldson’s contract status weigh on him and the team? Is this the end for Troy Tulowitzki?

Aside from what might happen in Toronto, there are a number of burning questions that I can’t wait to have answered.

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Can the defending champion Houston Astros repeat in 2018, and will they challenge Seattle’s record of 116 wins in a season? The ‘Stros might actually be better this year, which is scary.

Will Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each hit 50 home runs this season? Judge had a rookie record 52 in 2017 while Stanton led the majors with 59. The only other 50-50 home run teammates were Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, who hit 61 and 54 respectively in 1961.

Are the Miami Marlins going to lose more games in a season than any other team, ever? The 1962 New York Mets hold the modern day record of 120 losses. The 1899 Cleveland Spiders lost 134 games. Ouch.

Will the Washington Nationals ever win a playoff series? After a ho-hum spring, is Angels pitcher-outfielder Shohei Ohtani ready to prove that he is a real dual threat?

There’s only one way to have these questions answered, and that’s to play ball!

My 2018 MLB Projections

American League

East: Yankees
Central: Indians
West: Astros
Wild Card: Boston & L.A. Angels

National League

East: Washington
Central: Cubs
West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Diamondbacks & Cardinals

World Series
Chicago Cubs over Houston Astros

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