Daniel Norris destined for return to Blue Jays?


The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the league’s most lethal offence’s. They’ve scored the most runs of any team with 210; the second most is the Washington Nationals with 193. If you just looked at the numbers you’d think their record would be among the best in the American League.

But they’re not. Instead they sit in last place in the AL East with an 18-22 record. The simple explanation for this travesty is pitching; more specifically, starting pitching. The Jays rotation has combined for 219 innings with an ugly 5.29 ERA and combined 0.1 WAR.

It’s not even like they are the recipients of some bad luck that will eventually play itself out. Their BABIP sits at .293, slightly below the league average of .296, indicating the Jays’ pitchers are actually a fraction luckier than the rest of their major league counterparts.

Nor is it their team defence which Fangraphs ranks fourth among the entire league.

This is a self-induced problem. It’s why Daniel Norris was demoted and Marco Estrada was reborn. It’s why Todd Redmond was given a spot-start before being designated for assignment, potentially his last debut in a Blue Jays uniform.

With such a massive issue, the Jays are left with only a couple viable options: pursue a pitcher outside the organization through a trade or waiver claim–the Alex Anthopoulos special–or fill it with an internal option in your minor league system.

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Being that the Jays are lacking any true blue chip prospects–outside of Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey and the hopefully untouchable Jeff Hoffman– it’s more likely the Jays will and should go with the internal choice of someone currently in the Jays system.

That guy is all too familiar to Toronto; his name is Daniel Norris.

Norris started 2015 in the Jays rotation after a successful spring training where he threw 27.2 innings with a 2.93 ERA, 30 strikeouts and just eight walks. It was safe to say at the time that he earned his opening day designation.

In his five starts with Toronto, he was, by ERA standards, the Jays best pitcher. With a 3.86 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched, most rookies would assume they’re on their way to a long successful season “in the show.” Instead, Norris was demoted after his start against the Cleveland Indians where he laboured through three innings, throwing 78 pitches, 42 of which were strikes.

With the hopes of overcoming a dead-arm stage and regaining his velocity, Norris returned to Triple-A Buffalo to work with pitching coach Randy St. Claire whom he worked with last season in his rapid ascension to the big leagues.

In three starts, it seems he’s done just that. He’s combined for 18 innings, a 2.50 ERA with 20 strikeouts and nine walks. His strikeout rate isn’t quite as high as it was last season with Buffalo, but it’s not exactly an easy task to exceed a 15.09 K/9 rate.

According to teammate and recently promoted pitcher Scott Copeland, who manned the radar gun in Norris’ last start, reported that Norris averaged 92-93, hitting 94 eight times and 95 three times, a feat he failed to accomplish in his last start against Cleveland according to Brooks Baseball.

Norris seems to be ready for his triumphant return to Canada. The Jays are more than ready for it as well. But that doesn’t mean it’s set to happen. For now, the Jays brass seems content to play it start by start with Estrada and company, hoping that the rotation will fix itself and climb their way out of the depths of Major League Baseball’s cellar.

Whether veterans R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle rebound to their career selves is an astronomical factor in this equation, but the youth of Norris and Sanchez are still a major chapter of this book as well.

Will Jays fans see Norris sooner rather than later? Will they see him at all? Daniel Norris has only one answer to his pressing situation:

Next: Missed tag and inconsistency doom Blue Jays to another loss

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