Pessimist – Brendan Panikkar
The Toronto Blue Jays have had remarkable health from their rotation over the past few seasons. 2014, 2015, and 2016 have all seen the Blue Jays be quite fortunate in terms of the little to no need for starters in AAA or AA.
However, unlike seasons past where they’ve been 1-2 starters deep in AAA, this would not be the season the Blue Jays could afford an absence from any of their “Fantastic Five” starters. Last year, they had some cushion with Drew Hutchison in AAA. This year they do not have someone who could come in and provide stability for 3-4 turns through the rotation.
The closest arm they have to being able to step in and provide stability would be the veteran Mat Latos. It’s remarkable to think that Latos is still only 29. He’s been around forever and has actually had some ace calibre seasons with the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds. The Latos the Blue Jays saw in spring was extremely inconsistent. He showed us that he can barely make it 1 trip through the batting order. If he did and started a 2nd time through, he got hit hard. He simply does not have the same velocity and movement on his stuff like he used too.
Beyond Mat Latos, the team has Casey Lawrence and Mike Bolsinger, and either would likely be the first guy to be called up. Bolsinger would have to go back through waivers, Lawrence does not. Lawrence is Buffalo’s Opening Day starter this year but he has not pitched above AA before. He might be able to go through 1-2 turns through the rotation in Toronto, but that is a stretch. Bolsinger would be my call – I have the most faith in him as a starter in the majors as he’s had great success in the past with the Dodgers.
The rest of the lot includes Brett Oberholtzer, Lucas Harrell, and T.J House, but Harrell is currently injured. All three have had brief spurts of success in the majors (Harrell being the most successful) but they’re all 3-4 seasons removed from that success. House and Oberholtzer profile better as long relievers and not starters. If any of these three are up, it’s a disaster of a season to the Blue Jays rotation.
Quite simply put, they Blue Jays do not have reliable depth that they could turn to in the rotation to provide stability, if a starter goes down for more than 1 month. Perhaps the Blue Jays can survive 1-2 starts but anything beyond that could signal the end of the 2017 playoff aspirations.