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.
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.
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.
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.