Blue Jays: Brett Anderson could be a good fit for 2018

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 29: Brett Anderson
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 29: Brett Anderson /

Brett Anderson made his debut for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, and was very effective against the Boston Red Sox. A talented pitcher with a long history of injuries, he could be an oddly good fit for the Blue Jays for next year.

As the Blue Jays enter the final month of the regular season, they’ll be entering into evaluation mode with many of their regulars, and any of the youngsters that they choose to call up to join the roster. They have the bulk of their roster under contract to return for 2018, but there will be a few significant holes to fill for Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro over the winter.

One of those holes will be in the starting rotation, which could actually have two or more spots that need filling. Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ will return to the lead the rotation, and the Blue Jays are hoping they can have a much different season from Aaron Sanchez, who has missed nearly the entire season with finger/blister issues.

Beyond those three there are no guarantees for the final two spots, and the front office could use a few different approaches. There have been reports of mutual interest between the club and Marco Estrada, who has had a disappointing season overall, but has looked much more like himself of late, and is set to be a free agent. If he returns that would make four, and the front office will be closely watching every Joe Biagini start in September as well, hoping that he’ll take the reigns at the back of the bullpen.

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Whether or not Biagini can be an effective starter has been a source of debate amongst Blue Jays’ fans, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to hold down the role. His pre-arbitration salary makes it appealing to give him plenty of rope to make it work, and you can bet they’re rooting for just that. However, if I were to put money on where he ends up next year, I’d put it on him in the bullpen.

Biagini could also begin the year in Triple A to gain more experience as a starter, and that’s where a healthy Brett Anderson would be really valuable to the Blue Jays. As we saw on Tuesday night, he’s got plenty of value when he’s right, and he’s still just 29 years old. Using an approach that is somewhat reminiscent of Mark Buehrle‘s skill set, he threw 5.2 innings against the Red Sox, holding them to one run on three hits. In reality, he should have escaped the inning without an earned run, if not for some poor defence from the Blue Jays in the sixth.

He had a solid season in 2015 with the Dodgers when he went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 180.1 innings, but he’s battled back injuries since then.He was only able to make three starts and four appearances in 2016 with the Dodgers, throwing just 11.1 frames that season. He signed with the Cubs earlier this year and didn’t have a lot of success, finishing with a 8.18 ERA in six starts and 22 innings pitched. It was a short stint, but when you’re playing for the World Series champions who aim to defend their title, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see them eventually cut him loose. That said, he didn’t get much of a chance to get back into a groove after all that missed time either.

Like Biagini, Anderson will likely get an extended look in September, and if he continues to perform the way he did on Tuesday, it won’t be surprising to see the team engage him in trade talks. Even with a solid September, he’ll be in a situation where he’ll need to prove he can stay healthy before he’ll ever earn a big contract again, which could play well into the Blue Jays’ hands.

The Blue Jays should have a bit of money to play with this offseason, but if they do bring back Estrada then bringing someone like Anderson in to compete with Biagini could make a lot of sense. If he pitches anywhere near like he did on Thursday, expect there to at least be a conversation about it.

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