Blue Jays First Half Disappointments

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Apr 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris (32) throws a pitch during first inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Norris

At the time of Norris’ demotion, I was in the boat that wanted to see him get 2-3 more starts at the major league level. Yea, he struggled, but he showed in Tampa Bay on April 25th what he was capable of, and I didn’t think he was given a legitimate shot to stick with the team, kind of like how Aaron Sanchez was.

Regardless, I’m not naming Norris as a disappointment because of how he performed in his short 5 start cameo to start the year, but because of how he’s pitched since going down to the minor leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

The expectation at the time, or at least the hope of the Jays community, was that he would return to Buffalo for a period of time, make a number of starts, regain his confidence, get over his bout of ‘dead arm’, and return to the Jays in May or June and be a mainstay in the rotation for the rest of the year.

A situation similar to that of Stroman in 2014, but at this point, it looks like Norris will either be used as trade bait to acquire pitching that will help the Jays down the stretch, or spend the duration of the year in Buffalo, maybe getting a September call-up.

The expectations for him entering the year were too heavy, which is commonplace for top prospects, but to see him only spend 5 starts in the majors after the season he had in the minor leagues last year is truly disappointing. I’m making the assumption he doesn’t start another game for the Jays, but I can’t see that happening unless there’s significant injury problems or they’re out of it come September, which are two scenarios I don’t even want to think about considering.

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It’s not that he’s pitched terrible in the minor leagues, but he hasn’t been the dominant presence he was expected to be, and what he needed to be to get that call back up.

His numbers aren’t terrible by any means, his ERA is sitting at 4.12 after a start in which he went 4.2 IP with 6 ER. His K/9 isn’t at the level he posted in the minor leagues last year, but it’s a solid 8.48, and his walk rate has improved to 3.75, and he’s managed to limit the home run ball with a 0.61 HR/9.

However, it’s not the type of performance that renders a call up, and he’s been far too inconsistent in Buffalo for the Jays to consider him in the rotation at this point. His FIP in AAA is a solid 3.45, but he seems to continue taking one step forward followed by another step back.

Stroman’s performance in AAA after he got sent down is the type of performance Norris needed, but couldn’t deliver: 7 GS, 35.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 11.36 K/9, 2.27 BB/9.

The kid is 22, so it really shouldn’t be shocking to see him struggling. His performance has been disappointing, but the entire situation really has been as well. Prospects are exciting, and to see Norris struggle at two levels in a season where he was expected to make an impact is nothing more than disappointing.

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