Donaldson: Anything more than average a bonus for Jays’ rotation

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson. (Seth Wenig/AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays‘ biggest strength is undoubtedly their thunderous offence.

Reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson believes that if the team’s starting pitching is simply average, the bats that led MLB with a whopping 891 runs last season can take care of the rest.

“This is the beautiful thing about our team. To be a starting pitcher, you don’t have to be a stud to go out there and get wins,” Donaldson said in an interview with MLB Network Radio. “You just have to be good. Just be average. Be the average guy. If you go out there and produce more than that, great.”

One of the arms Toronto will lean on heavily is Marco Estrada, who parlayed an outstanding 2015 campaign into a two-year, $26 million contract. Donaldson was thoroughly impressed by Estrada’s breakout year and believes he would have been firmly in the Cy Young race had he not started the season in the bullpen.

“It’s going to be the most comfortable 0-for-4 you have all season,” Donaldson said of stepping into the box against Estrada. “And you’re going to walk away and say ‘what the hell happened?’ He did that all year. He was one of the best guys in the postseason. I feel like if you’re going to see anybody falter, that’s the time. He showed up and did his thing and did what he did for us all season.

“He wasn’t even a starting pitcher for us the first month of the year. You take the first month and let him do that, he’s probably in the top five in Cy Young [voting].”

Another pair of key pieces on the Blue Jays’ pitching staff are youngsters Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna. Donaldson is not one to think of age as a barrier and gave rave reviews to his youthful teammates.

“What Stroman does is say ‘you’re not going to beat me.’ That’s the same attitude I have at the plate,” Donaldson said. “I want to play defence behind a guy like that. If somebody does get him, who cares, he’s going to the next guy. Then you have Osuna. This guy pitched in Mexico in the professional league for a little while, so he has more experience than you would think.”

“I have never been afraid of young players because I came up in Oakland. We had young players there the entire time. When you put that jersey on, we expect you to go out there and perform.”

As for the departed David Price, the right-handed hitting Donaldson told Price at the end of the 2015 season that he wasn’t worried about the possibility of facing the ace left-hander.

“David, I know you’re a big deal,” Donaldson told his ex-teammate. “I’m glad you’re on my team. But if you’re not going to be on my team, I’m not mad. You’re left-handed. I’m going to get mine.”

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