2015 Blue Jays: Pitching Staff Over/Under
As I’ve already stated, I’m not a betting man. I like money too much for that. And, this is not a gambling site. But, I’d like to continue with a look at some predictions of Blue Jays performances for 2015 and set an expectation and take your guesses on the over/under for each. I’ll attempt to use actual facts and stats to back up my thoughts. But, mostly, this is for fun. I have already looked at some thoughts for the team as a whole. Today, I’ll focus on the pitching staff.
Mark Buehrle is a 5 time All Star and has pitched 200 innings 14 seasons in a row, including 2014. He averaged over 6 innings last season. He gave up 10.2 hits per 9 innings and walked 2 per 9. It is for this reason that I am going to state the unthinkable and set his innings total at under 200. I don’t think he’ll get hurt this season, so it won’t be too much below that magical 200 mark. I’m going to say Buehrle’s inning total will be 190. I think he’s flirting with danger as he advances in age. If you are interested in disagreeing with this, you can point to the fact that his FIP was its lowest since 2005. So, the things a pitcher can control (walks, HR, etc) were better under control last season than in many previous.
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R.A. Dickey won 14 games in 2014. His ERA was 3.71, but his FIP was an ugly 4.32. Buehrle won 13. I’m not so confident that these two can combine for 27 wins again. This is slightly sad given they are making a combined $32M in 2015 (Dickey- $12M, Buehrle- $20M). However, since the offense will score them a ton of runs and will bail them out, I am setting their combined win totals at 25.
Marcus Stroman made his debut last season and after a rocky experiment in the bullpen, they let him start and he flourished. He gathered 11 wins. In a piece where I tried to identify who was the Ace of the Blue Jays staff, all of Stroman’s numbers regarding his ‘stuff’ and his dependability point to him being the ace. He has a entire arsenal of pitches he can use, his FIP was among the best in the league, and he has the swagger and bulldog mentality to lead us all to believe there is more to come. I’m going to set his win total at 15 games.
Last season, the Blue Jays rotation saw 5 different starters put up at least 10 wins. Dickey-14, Buehrle-13, Stroman-11, Drew Hutchison-11 and J.A. Happ– 11. That is a total of 60 wins. Happ is gone. That means that Aaron Sanchez is tapped to take his spot. Given the complete nastiness that Sanchez brings, I think he can be a good replacement for Happ, if not better. It is not unreasonable to think he could win 12 games. He will undoubtedly win more as he advances in his career, but that is a reasonable number to expect from his first full season as a starter. Given the previous win totals I’ve already discussed and the introduction of Sanchez, I will set the win total for the starting rotation at 65.
The bullpen was a mess last season. We know this. It is the biggest part of the team that has not been settled yet. So, it makes predictions harder. But, I’ll give it a go anyway. Right now, it looks like Brett Cecil will get the longest look at closer. Of course, the Blue Jays could totally throw me off and put Sanchez at the back end of the bullpen. But, right now, they haven’t. So, barring an addition, Cecil is the most likely choice right now. Last season, he improved on his All Star 2013 season (thanks to a very strong second half) by lowering his ERA 12 pts to 2.70 and his FIP by over 50 to 2.34. As well, he increased his K/9 total to 12.8. He picked up 5 saves. If he can have a full season in the closer role, I’m going to put his save total at 32. Even in a terrible 2014, previous closer, Casey Janssen put up 25.
Speaking of the bullpen, I checked the total number of walks issued last season. For simplicity’s sake, I excluded anyone who started as it would have taken that much longer to find out when the walks came, etc. So, my rough calculations tell me that the bullpen issued 204 walks in 2014. Obviously, this total could be off a bit either way. But, you get the idea. This season, the Blue Jays will be very focussed on the success of the bullpen. I don’t expect there to be a long leash for failure. It may be a revolving door down there if they can’t bring in guys to help out, but still. They’ll be more active in addressing this throughout the season.
If they are going to attempt to solve this with ‘in house options, I think we can expect many bus rides back and forth between Toronto and Buffalo until they figure out the right combination. The point is, I don’t see the club letting the 2014 bullpen issues repeat themselves. If all of this is true, there may be many different faces in and out of the ‘pen. So, walk totals may still creep up. Getting to the point, though, I’m going to set the walk total for the 2015 bullpen at 145. That’s roughly 2.9 walks per 9. Still not pretty, but an improvement.
There you have it, some predictions for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. There are many numbers we could take a crack at, but these are a few main ones I’ll be watching.