The Toronto Blue Jays won again on Sunday. The win helped keep their 1.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in tact. It was another good outing from a member of the Blue Jays’ rotation. Marco Estrada continued his surprising season with a 5 inning outing that only saw him give up 2 hits. His command was less than stellar as he walked 4. It was not his best outing, but it kept his team in a position to blast runs across the plate as they are want to do.
Estrada was lifted after 5 innings of work. Part of that could be due to his team only up by 6-3 at the time and his not being as sharp as he’s been this year. But, there may very well be something else to explore here; something that can allow manager, John Gibbons, to come out and bring his starters out earlier. This might prove to be beneficial as they try to finish out the month of September in possession of a playoff spot.
Would it be wise to shorten the outings from the starters in favor of saving them for a deep run? With rosters having expanded already in September, there are more arms available in the bullpen. And, with the AAA Buffalo Bisons’ season ending on Monday, there could be more available. There would certainly be arms available to call upon to put together 3 or 4 innings of work. Gibby could do as he did on Sunday and use LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, Liam Hendriks and Roberto Osuna. We also know how great Aaron Sanchez has been. But, these guys will be needed if this club is going to do some damage in the post season.
Toronto Blue Jays
Instead, having extra arms like Jeff Francis, Aaron Loup, Bo Schultz, Ryan Tepera already sitting in the ‘pen means that the Blue Jays can afford to rest some of the above arms, including the rotation. Let’s also remember that there will be a couple more arms to call upon should they see fit. Guys like Todd Redmond, Steve Delabar, Chad Jenkins and Colt Hynes will be wrapping up their AAA season.
So, the question is: should the Blue Jays look to get the most out of their starters for 5 innings and then make a call to the ‘pen? Will this rest provide them with future success? Will the shorter outings save the starters for important games in the post season? There are several ways to respond to this. And, likely, lots of folks would be able to argue their stance with logical commentary.
Would you really send out David Price for just 5 innings, regardless of the score just to save him for a later date? Heck, any one of these starters could have a great outing that normally would see them last until the 8th or 9th. Would the Blue Jays consider pulling them anyway?
Let’s use Price as the example. He’s already at 196.1 innings. He threw 248 last year. Would it be wise to attempt to get the most out of him by limiting his innings here on out? Yes, he’s David Price, but one would have to imagine that the club would want his best for the playoffs, assuming they make it. But, this is likely the argument against resting your best pitchers. In order to make it to the playoffs, you need the most form your best arms. It’s a tricky situation to be in.
If the Blue Jays do want to minimize the fatigue of a full season so as to give them a better shot in October, perhaps the way to go is to stick with a simple addition of Marcus Stroman into the rotation for a 6-man group. Adding a healthy (and fresh) Stroman could very well address this concern. Some argue that upon his return, Stroman would push Drew Hutchison to the bullpen. But, the extra arm could provide the rest needed.
We can try and guess what this baseball club might do in the future. Resting the starters might make sense. So too would trying to get the most out of them down the stretch. Sunday’s start from Estrada ending in the 5th inning likely was dictated by the game itself. The extra arms in the bullpen allowed Gibby to pull Estrada early. Was this part of a larger plan? Probably not. But, if the Blue Jays are going to last in the post season, they may need to consider developing a plan for their rotation.