The 2014 Blue Jays Starting Rotation: A One and A Two and…umm… ?

Feb 18, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) runs during a drill as the Blue Jays workout at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

So Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t really on the radar for the 2014 Blue Jays starting rotation it would seem. According to reports we didn’t even put in an offer. Guess that medical sheet was full of red flags. If it wasn’t then we just got one upped by an AL East team….again. So the questions become a question. Do we need Ervin Santana? For sake of argument and lack of movement on the Blue Jays part I am going to say no. If it was meant to happen it would have. We are going status quo. Why not? Practically the same team that people picked to get to the playoffs last year. So let’s put our strongest starting five out there. And who will they be 1 through 5? Shi Davidi lends a bit of an insight into the team’s thoughts:

 

Number 1) R.A. Dickey: Seems reasonable to assume R.A. Dickey takes the 1 spot given his recent pedigree…and the fact there were no India trips and book signings and WBC contests to worry about. A clear and focused Dickey is key. He has the ability to be a stop starter…the starter that stops any long losing streaks. If he can somehow get his walks down and give up a tad less homers then he will be very effective. Home runs suck more with men on so that will be Dickey’s key to success this season. The rest of the staff is up in the air however. It all comes down to a big if. IF the starters can stay reasonably healthy then it is safe to assume Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ take the next three spots. In what order? Depends on if you value risk over dependability.

Hopeful Projection

19-5, 3.35 ERA, 220 innings, 200Ks, WHIP 1.150

Number 2) Brandon Morrow: For me I am all about changing things up. If the opposition sees the same flamethrower after flamethrower they are sure to get more locked in. Toss in a Morrow after Dickey and you have opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to style and tools. soft tossing knucky ball then shirt burning fastball. Sounds like a plan. Morrow has had more trips to the doctor than a Kardashian and again the prognosis is finally Morrow is healthy! This is the key to the entire season. If Morrow can give 200 plus innings this year it will go a long way to keeping the bullpen sharp. Assume the 4 and 5 spots will give you 170-180 innings at most and his inning count is crucial. We are assured that for now he is close to 100% so if this is true aaaand he reaches that ever so enticing potential then we could have a decent 1 and 1a to begin the rotation.

Hopeful Projection

17-9, 2.85 ERA, 200.3 innings, 10K/9IP, WHIP 1.055

Number 3) Mark Buehrle: The other option would be to build up to the power and insert Buehrle as the number 2. Go from slow to kind of fast to super fast. That looks disastrous. If he is going to give up the homers that he does it would be best to keep him back a bit and perhaps facing a few subs in the third game of a series. I see him as a three plus…dependable, inning eater who gives us a better than good chance to win. You may have to out-slug the other teams sometimes but the Blue Jays are built for that.

Hopeful Projection

15-10, 3.50 ERA, 205 innings. .8 HR/9. WHIP 1.200

Number 4) J.A. Happ: Under the guise that he took one for the team he deserves a chance and he has some semblance of pedigree and success in the majors. He is the definition of taking one for the team. Here’s hoping he picks it up a bit because his games after coming back from his knee injury (which he got getting laces stamped on his hat) were rather pedestrian at best. His ERA was under 4 before he was knocked out. When he came back it ballooned a couple runs before settling back to 4.56. His consistently high WHIP even before the injury could ultimately be his downfall. It’s still his spot to lose but the leash going into 2014 will be pretty short.

(very) Hopeful Projection

10-11, 4.00 ERA, 175 innings, 1.250 WHIP 6 H/9IP

Number 5) Todd Redmond: Redmond you ask? What does he have that all the other fifth starter candidates don’t? A mini-track record. He pitched 77 innings in the bigs and 26 at Buffalo. it may not seem like a lot but who’s to say he isn’t buying time for Hutchison or Drabek or even McGowan to get stretched out into the season? He has a decent K:BB ratio of around 3:1 and he gave up less than a home run per game. Sounds like decent peripheral stats. Here is my favourite: He beat the Yankees twice last year. So if he is going to go in as our fifth starter he is poised to have a pretty decent game against the Yankees in the Home Opener. He deserves as much of a shot as Esmil Rogers, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and others. Once the young guns are ready to go we may see Redmond pushed aside but for now he has earned the right to lose this position.

(very) Hopeful Projection

7-2, 3.75 ERA, 120 innings, 1.200 WHIP, 8 H/IP

So don’t get all in a huff. We all know the 2014 starting five will not be the 2014 finishing five. We do have a little depth to play with the 4 and 5 positions and that is a luxury that we dipped into slightly last year. If Marcus Stroman or one of Hutch and Drabek prove they are ready, watch for them to slip into the rotation come summer. If you think I nailed it, tell me in the comments. If you don’t I really want you to leave a comment.

Topics: R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

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  • Andrew van Laar

    No offense Jeff but those are some SERIOUSLY optimistic numbers. Other than maybe Dickey reaching his, there is no way each of the other four are going to have career years. Morrow for sure I think you are overestimating. I really hope he gets those numbers but I don’t think he will. And Burehle putting down numbers he has only done twice in his entire career seems a bit amiss. Happ will not be flirting with a 3 ERA. He has been a borderline 6th starter since 2011. I am not sure why he would turn it around all of the sudden. Todd Redman I could maybe see MAYBE getting those numbers since he really doesn’t have a body of work behind him to suggest he won’t make those numbers but even so… I don’t think he has the stuff to knock his ERA down by 0.50,

    I don’t know… sorry If I sound to negative… after last years optimism, I am trying to tamper peoples hopes when they think our starters are all the sudden going to all have career years.

    • Tallboywrites

      Just trying to be optimistic or I may club myself with a fungo bat due to the inactivity. If we want to compete for the playoffs those are the numbers we will need.

      • Andrew van Laar

        I think with the offense we have, we don’t actually need those numbers from out pitchers. We obviously need good numbers but what we really need are pitchers who come out and get out of the first few innings without a run and let us get in the game before we start chasing like we did so much of last year. I think if Morrow pitchers to a 3.75 ERA (which by the way I am still skeptical of), Burehle gives us quality innings eaten and our 4th and 5th starters come out and stay in the 4.25 ERA range we have a chance. This means our offense would have to produce like we thought they would last year but I think we are more than capable of scoring 4+ runs on most nights.

    • Alex Anthopoulos

      I think those sound like reasonable projections.

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  • voidhelix

    Hopeful? You`re a cashew away from the nut-farm. There`s zero evidence to suggest ANY of our starters perform even close to these levels. Hutch will be our number 4, Stroman 5. Stroman just has `it`, a swagger. And he hits spots in pressure situations. He makes the rotation.

    • JG

      Agreed in general though I am not yet totally sold on Stroman. We’ll see…I hope you are right.

    • RyanMueller

      Stroman will start the season in Buffalo. We have too many guys out of options to use a guy that has all his options to make the team.

      • voidhelix

        Yeah and so did Miami, yet they still threw Fernandez into the deep end after A+. The option argument`s fatuous, you start the guys who give u the best chance to win. That`s Stroman depending on ST. The only concern`s his 111 innings in 2013, would give a ceiling of around 140.

  • bob l.

    i believe the projections are a bit lofty also. however, if the jays offense can stay healthy and produce, the pitching (esp. the era) won’t need to be so low. remember the glory years? morris winning around 25 with a 4.50 era. a healthy team should go a long way.

    • JG

      He won 21 with an era a shade higher than 4. The ’92 team had outstanding pitching – Morris, Guzman (16-5 with a 2.6 era), Jimmy Key, Cone and Henke/Ward. The ’93 team, on the other hand, was mostly offence with adequate pitching and a shut-down closer. The Jays circa 2014 are no comparison to 93. A) that team knew how to win – and yes, knowing how to win does mean something b) Carter, White, Alomar, Molitor, Henderson – those guys had stellar years year-in year -out, not one or two and then so-so or flash-in-the-pan a la Bautista, Rasmus etc. And the ’92/’93 Jays didn’t scream and yell when a call didn’t go their way. They were consummate professionals and their to win, doing whatever it took.

  • JG

    “It’s virtually the same team as last year, which was predicted to make the playoffs.” Except, it isn’t. The “experts” everyone was so excited about last year also predicted (about which everyone was equally excited) that Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio would be key components of said team. We know how that turned out and they are now gone. If the Blue Jays this time last year had no Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonficacio – whom experts had pegged as the #2 pitcher and starting second baseman, respectively, the team would likely not have been so picked.

    Morrow has never thrown close to 200 innings. We’ve been hearing forever about how he is the key. He has had one very good 2/3 season. That’s it. He’s 30. he gets hurt every year. Every year we hear the same thing.

    Anthopolous essentially swore the team would be active in the offseason and add pitching. He has done nothing. he is the master of spewing 3 paragraphs of quotes and at the end you realize he has said nothing at all. He is obsessed with “value” and “I’ll only add this part if it guarantees we win a world series”. Nothing will ever “guarantee” you win a world series. As for the value…I am not much of a Greg Zaun fan but he had it right when he said Anthopolous was not much more than a bean counter.

    Finally, the comparisons to Boston last year. A) Boston had a history of winning before and, as ill as the franchise was for a couple of years, had guys who knew how to win. B) Boston actually made smart additions last year in the off-season, while Anthopolous has smugly stood by and done nothing.

    Blue Jays will finish last again, I am sad to say. They simply aren’t a good team. I long for the Pat Gillick days, when this franchise had oomph and excitement and proudly competed with everyone and anyone.

  • thestever

    this is probably the most pathetic blue jays rotation I have ever seen. I miss the days when we had halladay, burnett, litsch, marcum, and mcgowan (when they were young and healthy of course). Those were the days when the jays had a horrible offense, yet still managed to stay well over .500 and finish 2nd or 3rd in the division.

  • RyanMueller

    Jeff,
    You are getting a little beat up here. I think that your optimism should be applauded. I haven’t been a Morrow fan for some time, but I also know that he will have that one or two years that were he puts it all together….maybe that will be this year. The ERA’s seemed a little low and Todd’s win total was a little out there. You might be close with Happ’s stats, minus the ERA.
    RA Dickey- 16-9 ERA 4.50 WHIP 1.28
    Morrow- 12-7 ERA 3.95 WHIP 1.34
    Buehrle- 11-13 ERA 4.42 WHIP 1.30
    Happ- i like your projection
    Rogers- 6-8 ERA 4.70 WHIP 1.40
    6th stater McGowan- 10-4 ERA3.80 WHIP 1.25
    I think that Rogers will start as the 5th starter and McGowan will get the 5th spot once the first starter goes down with an injury.