Blue Jays Lineup: Could Liam Hendriks Start?


There are certainly some notions circling around now as to what the Toronto Blue Jays could do to bolster their rotation. The GM Meetings in Florida are yielding some interesting stories. For example, there is the rumor that the Blue Jays could be looking to extend an offer to free agent ace, Zack Greinke. While that surely will get some fans excited, there is other reports that may not.

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For example, Jonah Birenbaum tells us at The Score that the club could be looking to internals options to fill out the rotation. Tony LaCava, who just agreed to stay in Toronto longer, despite it not being clear what his role will be. But, as GM, he said that Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez and Liam Hendriks are “candidates to start next season”.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Now, the fact that the Blue Jays are considering Sanchez and Osuna is nothing new or surprising. They’ve long been seen as starters, but a severe lack of options forced them into the bullpen. The 2015 did start with Sanchez in the rotation where he struggled. After returning from an injury, he was plugged into the ‘pen and combined with Osuna to create a very effective set up/closer combination.

Some still fee that Osuna can make the transition to starting with ease and could prove to be an effective weapon. Others have seen his dominance in the closer’s role and do not want to go back to having a giant question mark there. It took a very long time for the Blue Jays to find an effective closer. It was to the point that I was even questioning the value of closing and the save statistic. Osuna made me believe. Inserting him into the rotation makes sense. But, it also creates a rather difficult hole to fill.

Perhaps one of the more lengthy debates this winter will be whether Sanchez should start or relieve. Without going into that debate here, the idea that he’ll be considered for starts makes sense. Despite what they’ve seen from him in that role, the Blue Jays still feel he is a starter. And, why not? His stuff has the potential to be downright filthy. While it remains a question mark as to whether he can maintain success, we know he’ll get some consideration.

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But, what might surprise fans is the consideration Liam Hendriks will get for 2016. For the last few years, he’d bounced around between clubs trying to find his fit. Heck, the Blue Jays themselves shipped him off to Kansas City in the Danny Valencia trade. But, in 2016, he seemed to have found his stride in the bullpen. He was so effective there that it is confusing why they’d consider moving him back.

As a starter, Hendriks is 3-14 for his career in what amounts to a full season of starts. His ERA as a starter sits at 5.95 and his WHIP is over 1.5. But, as a reliever, he’s performed much better. He’s 5-1 with an ERA of 3.50 and a WHIP of 1.215. His 2015 numbers were even better. In 64 innings, he went 5-0 with an ERA of 2.92 and a WHIP of 1.082.

Now, given the confusion over payroll, some might take this news as a sign that ownership is cheap and they’re looking to fill their needs internally without spending money. Well, that is surely part of their thinking. It would be cheaper. But, we really can’t think that that is the totality of their thinking. Instead, we should probably see this as the club exploring the depth it already has. Remember that every club looks to have more than just their starting 5 when the season begins. To get through a season, they’ll likely need starts from 8 or 9 different guys.

So, while Osuna and Sanchez very well could be looked to as starting options in 2016, we shouldn’t read the same thoughts into the notion of Hendriks getting starts. If he’s being looked to in the same light as the younger two, this club has struck out in every other avenue.

Next: 5 Realistic Free Agent Pitching Options for Blue Jays

Instead, we should really take the comment that he “could start for Blue Jays in 2016” to mean that Liam Hendriks is starting depth. He very well could see some starts in 2016. But, we should not be panicking about the number of starts. At this point in the offseason, they are not looking to Hendriks as a full time starter.