Toronto Blue Jays’ 2015 Steamer Projections: Starting Pitchers

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Sep 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) throws against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 1-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Stroman  –  (13-9)  –  31 GS, 192.0IP

3.75 ERA  – 1.24 WHIP  –  3.3 WAR

Stroman is projected to be the Blue Jays strongest Starting Pitcher in 2015, duplicating his 3.3 WAR from last season.  Steamer sees his ERA and WHIP staying fairly similar to his Rookie year, which most Blue Jays fans would be very happy with.

Steamer projects that Stroman will struggle with control more in 2015, however, issuing walks at a higher clip, which could be related to MLB hitters acclimating themselves to his breaking pitches.

If Marcus Stroman were to reach 192 IP, and do so fully healthy, it would be a huge win for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Adding a third SP with the ability to approach 200 IP is a positive, especially with Stroman’s quality.

Drew Hutchison  –  (12-9)  –  30 GS, 173.0 IP

4.07 ERA  –  1.27 WHIP  –  1.9 WAR

These projections for Hutchison are encouraging, and even pencil him in for a higher WAR than both Dickey and Buehrle.  Due to his young debut and missed time from Tommy John surgery, Hutchison is often wrongly forgotten in the conversation of young Blue Jays’ pitching.

A winning record from Hutchison in 170+ innings would be a welcome sight, especially if he is able to lower his ERA, as Steamer predicts he will.  Across the board on his advanced statistics, most categories are expected to stay very similar to 2014.

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In the same way that Brandon Morrow was once the annual wild card in the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation, that role may now belong to Hutchison.  If healthy, I fully expect him to be a quality back-end starter, but the potential is there, both mentally and physically, to be more than that.

Aaron Sanchez  –  (8-9)  20 GS, 150.0 IP

4.82 ERA  –  1.53 WHIP  –  -0.3 WAR

Here’s the one that has me worried.  Aaron Sanchez has the talent, we all know that from his bullpen dominance in 2014, but does he have the ability to control his pitches two or three times through the same lineup?  Walks have been an issue for Sanchez throughout his Minor League career, and Steamer projects that to continue through to the Majors.

Sanchez is projected to allow 4.84 BB/9.  Whether he’s in the rotation or closing from the bullpen, that number is not going to work.  A free baserunner every other inning will lose the Blue Jays some ball games.  Thankfully, I think these projections may be just a bit too harsh on Sanchez.  Will he struggle with control?  I think so, absolutely, but to the extent that he produces a negative WAR is a bit extreme.

It’s interesting to note that Steamer projects him to start 20 games, but appear in 35 more as a reliever.  Preferably for the Blue Jays, one man will seize the 5th spot out of Spring Training and run with it.  Aaron Sanchez has the inside track, but these numbers suggest that a backup plan may be necessary.

Daniel Norris  –  (5-4)  8 GS, 78.0 IP

4.03 ERA  –  1.36 WHIP  –  0.2 ERA

I’ll include Norris on this list of Blue Jays’ starting pitchers because more than likely, he will take the mound at some point in 2015.  Steamer projects him to start eight games while entering 30 in relief, and his numbers are slightly more encouraging than those of Aaron Sanchez.

This doesn’t mean the projections are overly exciting, though.  Norris is still expected by Steamer to walk over four batters per nine innings, something that would shorten outings as a starter and limit his impact as a potential reliever.

Between Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris, the hope is that one of the two will outperform these projections and contribute as a member of the starting rotation.  The 5th spot in Toronto’s rotation is not a charity spot for Sanchez or Norris to “learn” from.  If the Blue Jays hope to return to the playoffs, whatever those are, the kids will need to pitch like Major Leaguers.

So have your say, Blue Jays fans.  As I’ve said, these projections are far from an exact science, but provide a great jumping-off point for discussion.  Out of these six, which Blue Jays’ SP do you expect to exceed their projections in 2015?