Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays considering Marcus Stroman or Sean Nolin for spot start on Saturday


We could be seeing Marcus Stroman!

Well, maybe.

Yesterday’s doubleheader created the need for a spot start this Saturday as the Blue Jays travel to Texas to visit the Houston Astros this weekend. Esmil Rogers and Mark Buehrle pitched yesterday, R.A. Dickey goes today, J.A. Happ will take the hill on Thursday and Todd Redmond rounds out the rotation Friday in Houston.

It doesn’t make sense for the Blue Jays to pitch Buehrle or Rogers on three days rest so the club will dip into their minor league system to find a spot starter for Saturday.

When asked about the situation manager John Gibbons wouldn’t say who had the inside edge but also didn’t rule anybody out according to Gregor Chisholm, who covers the Toronto Blue Jays for MLB.com.

Chisholm hints that there is a chance that the Blue Jays roll with either Stroman or recent Triple-A call-up Sean Nolin as not only a spot starter but possibly as an extended audition for next year.

We’re not sure which way we’re going to go, to be honest with you. – Gibbons

Nolin last pitched on Sunday afternoon in what was his first game at the Triple-A level. He threw for 5.1 innings, allowed 7 hits, 2 earned runs and struck out 4 while walking 4 more (box). Nolin struggled with control at times and was leaving too many balls up in the zone, which probably won’t translate very well at the big league level.

Nolin is already on the 40-man roster and as I mentioned in my post on Sunday I still think he has the inside track in comparison to Stroman in regards to who will be called up first.

There can sometimes be confusion about the way minor league options work. We commonly hear that a player is “out of options” and assume that a player can only be optioned so many times. But it should be more accurately referred to as “out of option years”. There’s a bunch of technicalities but usually a player is allotted three minor league option years. Once a player is added to the 40-man roster a team has three option years where they can basically outright a player from the 40-man without having to expose him to irrevocable waivers.

With Nolin already been added to the 40-man he’s considered on optional assignment to the minors and since he’s spent more than 20 days in the minors he has expended one of his option years. Whether or not Nolin should have been added to the 40-man in the first place is a conversation for another day.

Stroman is a bit of a different case. After serving the remainder of his 50-game suspension earlier this season, he returned in May and has been rolling ever since. Stroman set a Fisher Cats single-game strikeout record with 13 (later matched by Nolin) and despite only standing 5’9 his fastball will touch 95 MPH. He’s dominated Double-A this year and is striking out 27.9% of batters while walking only 5.6%. His control has improved vastly compared to his stint with New Hampshire last after he dominated rookie ball in Vancouver.

The biggest chance for Stroman has been his much improved change-up. He was barely throwing the change last year some scouts saw it to be potentially average at best. However Stroman continued to work hard on the pitch and it may in fact turn into a plus pitch for him. Some people also really like his slider but I’ve also read that it can be flat at times and looks more like a hard cutter. There’s a very good article on FanGraphs about Stroman that was posted a few weeks ago, I would recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Stroman last pitched on Saturday for New Hampshire. He went 5.2 innings, allowed 7 hits, 4 runs (2 earned) and struck out 6 while walking none (box).

I know everyone really wants to see Stroman (myself included) in Toronto. But right now I really don’t think the Blue Jays would be doing themselves any favours by calling him up this early. If he does fail miserably and the Jays are forced to shuffle around arms again in the bullpen or rotation they risk unnecessarily burning an option year on Stroman that could prove invaluable a few years from now. As much as players must not like it, having minor league options gives a team flexibility to port arms between affiliates and not risk losing assets.

If the Blue Jays wait until September to call up Stroman this problem can be potentially avoided. An option year is only expended if a player is added to the 40-man roster and then optioned back down for 20 days or more. The Blue Jays have already burned an option year on one of their top pitching prospects for one lousy game – why would they waste another?

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H/T FanGraphs, MLB Prospect Portal, Baseball Reference, MiLB.com

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Tags: Marcus Stroman Sean Nolin Toronto Blue Jays