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
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.