Apr 2, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) throws against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SportsThe Toronto Blue Jays have gone through their pitching rotation for the first time this season. All the starters managed to pitch into the 6th inning, but none of them were able to pitch into the 7th inning.
So who is going to be the first Blue Jays starter to get into the 7th inning this season?
Dickey is as good a candidate as any. He went a full 6 innings in his Blue Jays debut despite allowing a lot of base runners. He probably would have been able to get into the 7th inning if it was not for J.P. Arencibia’s defensive mistakes. Unless there’s a change of plans, Henry Blanco will catch Dickey’s start against the Red Sox so that shouldn’t be an issue. It doesn’t hurt that the Red Sox managed just 2 hits the game before, so there’s the possibility that their bats could be getting or have gotten cold.
If Dickey doesn’t do it, Brandon Morrow also went a full 6 innings in his first start of the season. His 2nd start is against the Detroit Tigers. In his first start, Morrow also put on a lot of base runners but still held the Indians to 1 run. The Tigers have as good an offense as anyone in baseball so if Morrow lets a lot of base runners on against them, they might not be as forgiving as the Indians. But of course Brandon Morrow is Brandon Morrow, so if his stuff is working and he limits the base runners he could get into the 7th.
If Morrow doesn’t do it, Mark Buehrle seems like the least likely pitcher in the rotation to get into the 7th inning in his next start. He couldn’t finish the 6th inning in his Jays debut, he got hit around and his next start is against the stacked Tigers. But Buehrle will be helped by the fact that the Tigers home ball park, Comerica Park, is very pitcher friendly. Balls that would be homeruns at the Rogers Centre could be outs at Comerica Park so that could be enough for him go deeper into the game this time.
If Buehrle doesn’t do it, Josh Johnson went a full 6 innings in his Blue Jays debut, but like Dickey and Morrow he gave up a lot of base runners. Johnson probably could have pitched into the 7th in his first start but like Dickey was also a victim of shady defense as Emilio Bonifacio committed a few errors on plays that should have gotten an out. Everything mentioned earlier about Morrow applies to Johnson, if his stuff is working and he limits the base runners he could get into the 7th against the Tigers.
If Johnson doesn’t do it, the Blue Jays have an off day on Monday so J.A. Happ’s next start could get skipped to let Dickey and the rest of the rotation get their normal rest. Depending on what the Jays decide to do there, Happ’s next start would either be against the Royals or White Sox. Happ couldn’t finish the 6th inning in his first start even though he only allowed 1 hit in the game so it’s hard to say how deep he’d be able pitch against the Royals. The Royals home ball park Kauffman Stadium is pitcher friendly so that should help his cause. If Happ’s next start is skipped in favor of letting the rest of the rotation get normal rest then hopefully a Blue Jays starter has already gone into the 7th inning by the time Happ has his next scheduled start, so he doesn’t even get the chance to be the first starter to pitch into the 7th.
We all know that the Jays entire rotation is more than capable of pitching into the 7th even though none of them were able to do so in their first start. Let’s see who does it first. If no one does it the second time through the rotation then I might have to write a 2nd version of this post to try and guess who’s the first to pitch into the 7th the 3rd time through the rotation. But let’s just hope that doesn’t happen.