Ricky Romero was scheduled to be the Blue Jays Opening Day starter. The most innings Brandon Morrow had thrown in a season was 179.1 in 2011. 2012 was going to be just his second time starting for a full season. He was also a lock to be the Blue Jays number 2 starter. It’s safe to say the Blue Jays weren’t “all in” trying to compete.
The rest of the Blue Jays 3 rotation spots were going to be decided by a Spring Training competition between Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek and Dustin McGowan. The hope was that all those pitchers would get a chance to start in 2012 and provide enough quality innings to contend for a playoff spot in 2012. It would also give the Blue Jays a chance to see who’s worth keeping in the rotation for 2013.
McGowan inevitably got injured during Spring Training so the competition was done.
Brett Cecil got rocked hard in his last few spring training games so the Blue Jays decided to send him to the minors to start the season. Joel Carreno replaced Cecil for one big league start and then was sent back to the minors.
The Jays had enough off days that they didn’t need a fifth starter again until April 21. The Jays brought up Drew Hutchison to make his big league debut that day and he ended up sticking in the rotation.
Dustin McGowan is still injured. Brett Cecil is either going to start 2013 in the Blue Jays bullpen or he’s going to be put on waivers. Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison got injured last June and both are recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Henderson Alvarez was in the Marlins trade. He didn’t show a lot of promise in his first big league season with just 3.8 strikeouts per 9 innings which added up to just 79 strikeouts in 187.1 innings. He also had an ERA over 5. In other words he was expendable.
NONE of the starting pitchers in competition for a rotation spot last spring would have been choices for the 2013 rotation.
If one or two of the starters from last spring’s competition stepped up or stayed healthy Alex Anthopoulos probably wouldn’t have been forced to go all out in finding starters this offseason. Maybe the conversation with the Marlins stops at Josh Johnson. Maybe the Blue Jays only acquire R.A. Dickey. Maybe AA doesn’t even call the Marlins or the Mets.
It’s a safe bet that all the newly acquired starters this offseason make the Blue Jays a better team than if any of the starters from last spring’s competition were in the rotation. Maybe the failed rotation plan was a blessing in disguise.