Mar 19, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker (40) removes starting pitcher J.A. Happ (48) from the game during third inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Morning Brew: Aces, Walks, And Spring Debuts

It is just me or does there seem to be a lot of talking about pitching around the Toronto Blue Jays? Maybe it’s the 79 free passes (4th most) Blue Jays pitchers have given up this spring. Maybe it’s the 24 home runs Jays arms have surrendered (2nd most). Or maybe it is the 1.59 team WHIP (3rd highest) this spring.

Regardless, Blue Jays beat writers and bloggers alike are talking about the state of the team’s pitching staff and it isn’t likely to go away until things improve.

Take for instance this piece by Mike Rutsey at the Toronto Sun, who equates John Gibbons‘ search for a final member of the rotation to an absurdist play that centers around two men who wait endlessly and in vain for a third. J.A. Happ was the latest to take his stab at the spot, and despite basically being handed the keys, keeps doing everything he can to have the car taken away from him. The lefty made it through just 2.2 innings of work, throwing 71 pitches (34 strikes) and staking the Phillies to a 3-0 lead before exiting. 2 home runs and 4 RBI by Jose Bautista bailed him out, but this doesn’t look like a guy that should be a favorite for a roster spot, let alone a role in the rotation.

That moves us to a post by Callum Hughson at Mop Up Duty, who wonders if the Blue Jays have an ace in the hole in Dustin McGowan. Hughson cites the old comments by Alex Anthopoulos about McGowan having the stuff to be a great pitcher, but we all know the health issues that have plagued Dustin throughout his career. He did pitch well as a reliever last season, but he hasn’t really been stretched out much this spring (4.0 innings, 3 runs, 3 walks, 2 K’s), so he’d have to approve a minor league assignment and be put through waivers so he can stretch out further in the minors if he’s going to become a starter at any point this season. I personally would leave well enough alone and use his stuff as another solid bullpen arm and let it be done with that.

Speaking of the bullpen, earlier this week I discussed why it may be in Toronto’s best interest to start Casey Janssen on the DL to begin the season. However, as Gregor Chisholm notes, Janssen is ready to make him spring game debut on Friday against the Rays. From there, he expects to be ready for the season with just a few outings, similarly to how to did last year when he made just 2 spring appearances. For now, the plan is for him to get three or four appearances in, and we’ll see from there if he is truly ready.

On a non-pitching note, and one is welcome trust me, we head over to our neighbors at Bluebird Banter, where Nick Ashbourne takes a look at the Dioner Navarro / Eric Kratz tandem and determines how much of an upgrade they will really be over the J.P. Arencibia / Josh Thole pair we suffered through last season. Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays will see a moderate upgrade offensively, but on the defensive side of the ball, not so much, despite how maligned Arencibia was for his defense. I guess we’ll wait and see.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays

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