Mueller Minute: Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris

By Ryan Mueller
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Hello fellow Blue Jays fanatics,

This isn’t going another analytical  piece where I pretend to know what I’m talking about, rather this is just one fanatic throwing out his feelings about the bullpen situation to see if I’m alone.

At season’s end, Toronto’s bullpen finished at the bottom of most statistical categories, which prompted many fans and media alike to suggest that improving the bullpen should be one Alex Anthopoulos’ top priorities.

Gone from last year’s bullpen are Casey Janssen, Dustin McGowan (unsigned), Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow and JA Happ (if you consider them bullpen arms). Fast-forward a couple of months and all that Alex has done to improve the bullpen is add a bunch of minor league relief pitchers, a couple of guys that will bounce between Toronto and Buffalo, and finally a few guys that have some past major league experience.  On top of this, several key relievers have left the team to further compound the issue.

Now that I’ve completely freaked you out, let me throw out an idea that has rolled around my little brain for the past few weeks which should spark some interesting conversations.

First, let’s assume that the starting rotation will consist of

  1. Marcus Stroman
  2. Drew Hutchison
  3. Mark Buehrle
  4. RA Dickey
  5. one of Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris

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  • I’m going suggest either Marco Estrada or Todd Redmond be awarded the 5th starter job, with Sanchez and Norris being relegated to the bullpen. IMO Estrada and Redmond’s value is greater as a long man out of the pen. It’s been suggested that Sanchez could/should replace the Blue Jays closer in 2015, but we’re not going to do that in this piece, nor am I going to suggest that Norris be the closer.

    A native of Barstow, California Aaron Sanchez was extremely impressive in his limited time in Toronto. The former compensation pick, Sanchez proved that he is capable of getting major league batters out and getting them out consistently.

    A native of Johnson City, Tennessee Daniel Norris did something that Sanchez didn’t…..he started a game. The 2011 2nd rounder might end up being more like Marcus Stroman than like Aaron Sanchez, in that be might find success in the bullpen. Norris’s stuff translates better as starter than reliever, but…..there’s always a but…..he will serve the team better as a reliever to start the year.

    What I’m suggesting is to remove Sanchez and Norris from competing for a spot in the rotation in the spring. Have them compete for the vacated bullpen spots. As bullpen arms, Gibbons will be able to limit their innings in the first half of the season. Depending on how the 5th starter fairs, begin to stretch out Sanchez and Norris before the All-Star break with the intention of adding one or both arms to the rotation.

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    If the Blue Jays are able to contend this year then it’d be a shame to shut both these talented arms down as August draws to a close and the playoff runs begin. If they start in the bullpen, their innings will not start to be an issue until sometime in October, when they would likely be forced back into the bullpen anyhow.

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