Blue Jays Morning Thoughts: Marco Estrada making push for bigger role


Many of us, including myself, have been quick to write off Marco Estrada. Since the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him in exchange for Adam Lind, it’s almost as though we were wishing failure on the man. Of course, he didn’t help matters either when he surrendered a home run to his first batter of the spring, or when he gave up another dinger to his first hitter of the 2015 season.

First impressions aren’t always the best way to judge a player thought, and Marco Estrada has put those first impressions behind him in a big way.

Since allowing that 9th inning home run to Jonathan Schoop on April 10th, Estrada has retired 32 of the 40 batters he has faced since and allowed just 4 hits, only one of which went for extra bases. If you cut out the 5 walks over those 9.2 innings of work, Estrada has held opposing hitters to a .097/.243/.129 slash-line.

As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet points out, that kind of performance could make things quite interesting for the Blue Jays going forward.

As things stand in Toronto right now, everything to do with the pitching staff is in flux. The bullpen has been moved around like a Rubik’s Cube in order to figure out how to best line everything up, but the rotation has been horrible to say the least. With a 5.34 starters’ ERA, the Blue Jays rank 27th in baseball. The rotation has also allowed the 2nd most home runs (19), 6th most hits (124), and only the Colorado Rockies have a worse WHIP than the Blue Jays (1.54).

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Could there be a fix involved on both sides?

The beauty of having Estrada throwing multiple innings already is that he is stretched out and ready to assume a starting role when needed. That would allow the Blue Jays the chance to move Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, something that John Gibbons admits Toronto has already discussed. Given the comfort Sanchez exhibited in the bullpen in 2014, it could prove a much needed win for the Blue Jays in terms of stabilizing things at the end of the game.

The question though, is whether Estrada can keep it up.

As it stands, Marco Estrada is benefiting greatly by an increase in groundball production. In fact, his current rate of 45.8% would be a career-best if he could keep it up over a full season. He’s also not going to live all season long on a .130 BABIP, which is less that half of his .274 career rate.

According to FanGraphs, Estrada has been living off of his change-up, which he throws at 79.2 MPH, uses 36.2% of the time, and is getting a ridiculous value of 3.78 runs above average from per 100 pitches thrown. Meanwhile, his fastball (-0.56) and his curve (-0.98) are valued negatively and have served as nothing more than show pitches at this stage.

Can he keep that up while working through a line-up that has already seen him twice in a ballgame? More importantly, can he continue to keep the ball in the park while throwing such a large percentage of offspeed pitches?

No decision has been made yet, but Marco Estrada is making it worth a consideration. With the Blue Jays possibly needing a shot in the arm in both the rotation and the bullpen, Estrada may indeed get his shot.

Next: Estrada, Offense help Blue Jays end 4-game skid

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