Feb 26, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek (4) throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training exhibition game at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Early Spring Results Look Familiar For Toronto Blue Jays


There is an French proverb that states, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. In the case of the Toronto Blue Jays, the same could be said about the lack of change.

Knowing the team needed an upgrade or two to its pitching staff, the Blue Jays instead decided to wait out the market and hope that prices came down to their liking. In the end, they ended up with no upgrades, a question mark as the number four man in the rotation in J.A. Happ, and an open competition for the fifth spot.

Now, spring training results are generally regarded as taken with a grain of salt. With guys working on getting their repertoire worked on one pitch at a time, dialing in location, and other menial tasks leading up to being ready for the regular season, it is often tough to gauge anything on the results. However, when you have said open competition going on, both the team and the fans are or should be taking a harder look at results.

And if you look pretty hard at those results, they don’t generate a lot of optimism.

Through 8 spring match-ups, the Blue Jays stand at an even .500 with a 4-4 record. However, the statistical picture is a little more of an issue, specifically with the performance of the pitching staff.

Through those 8 games, Toronto’s pitchers rank 25th in baseball with a 5.78 ERA, 26th in runs allowed, 22nd in hits allowed, and 25th in home runs allowed. With a -13 run differential, the Blue Jays are lucky to be sitting with a .500 record.

Now granted, as I said above, spring results are often meaningless. Teams can totally tank during spring training and then come out and perform much better in the regular season. However, the early rankings are awfully familiar to where the Blue Jays finished in 2013.

Team ERA? Toronto finished 25th.

Runs allowed? The Blue Jays ranked 27th in baseball.

Hits allowed? Toronto allowed the 9th most in the game last season.

Home runs? 29th.

Now granted, those results are also weighted on the backs of pitchers that are competing, but may not win a job. Kyle Drabek (5 earned in 3 IP) and Deck McGuire (4 earned, 1.1 IP) for instance, aren’t likely to make the team anyway, so their results are padding the numbers a bit. However, early struggles for both Brandon Morrow (6 earned in 5.0 IP) and J.A. Happ (6 earned and 5 BB in 1.1 IP) are a bit more alarming.

There is plenty of time for things to fall into place for the Blue Jays and their pitching staff. No one is going to make a rash decision, especially one that they chose not to make when the hot stove was cooking. Still, it is a bit disconcerting to say the least, especially for fans looking for something to hold onto.

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  • Erik Trenouth

    Meh. I look at this spring and take some good things out of it.
    1) Management is starting to realize that Happ sucks
    2) Dickey is loose, free and easy
    3) Morrow is feeling fine after throwing
    4) Buehrle is getting a lot of work in early
    5) There are a few rotation candidates that are killing it
    6) There will be talented depth this year

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Nice

    • SM

      1) Management itself is undecided. After Gibbons saying Happ is OK, AA says his back is busted and a second spot in the rotation just opened up.

      2) Dickey is giving a LOT of hits. Where’s that movement everyone keeps talking about?

      3) Morrow just had an awful start.

      4) Buerhle is Buehrle – neither here nor there. I mean he’s the middle anchor. Don’t expect him to win you a WS but don’t expect him to not take you to playoffs if you contend (I mean on a team other than the Jays).

      5) By few you mean Hutchison and Stroman I’m guessing. Hutch I’m sold on. Stroman gave up 2ER already in 2IP.

      6) There is depth – talent is lacking. See newest MLB under players under 25 rankings. Jays in the bottom 5 I think.

      • Erik Trenouth

        1) Them realizing that he shouldn’t be a lock to make the rotation. That in itself is a good thing.
        2) Dickey is walking a lot of people this spring because he is throwing into wind and getting even more movement than expected. Statistical results at this point, especially for Dickey, are moot. The important thing with him is to be able to throw without discomfort.
        3) Morrow’s last start wasn’t nearly as bad as the line score. He was working on getting a good feel for his pitches, and getting a good feel for the mound. You have to remember that it has been 10 months since he pitched. Just feeling good after a game is most important for him.
        4) -
        5) Hutchison and Stroman are looking good. Redmond and Rogers have been doing decent thus far too. Drabek and McGowan have shown some filthy stuff this spring, but haven’t been hitting their spots with any cosistency.
        6) The talent is far greater than last year, and legitimate fill-ins for the starting rotation are actually feasible for this team. As nice as it would be for the Jays to have under 25 talent waiting in AAA like the Cardinals, they do still have much better depth.

        Get these pitchers in front of the vastly improved defense this year, and the Jays rotation goes from bottom 5 to middle 10, possibly even top 15. Coupled with a top 3 offense, the team will contend.