Blue Jays: Joe Biagini’s 2018 role up in the air
Heading into the last homestand of the season and the Toronto Blue Jays will not be playing meaningful baseball during the final homestand for the first time since the 2014 season. Injuries to the rotation that forced the Blue Jays to use a plethora of starting pitchers including stretching out bullpen stud Joe Biagini to fill a rotation spot.
Going into the off-season has raised questions about Joe Biagini and what his role will be for 2018 and, to be honest, nobody can say concretely as it’s totally up in the air and dependent on too many other things.
The Blue Jays rotation currently features Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Brett Anderson, and Joe Biagini. Into next year, you have Stroman, Happ, and Biagini under club control with what the Blue Jays hope will be a return of Aaron Sanchez for good from the blister issues. Marco Estrada is a free agent as is Anderson. The first line of business is to determine what to do with Estrada and Anderson.
If you ask me, Estrada is a top priority to re-sign and bring back for another year or two. From April 3rd to May 30th Estrada was pitching like he had his entire Blue Jays career with a 3.15 ERA. A bad mid-season stretch from June 1st to July 21st he had a 9.52 ERA. The third portion of his season that is still continuing is from July 22nd to September 16th see’s his ERA sitting at 3.74. A bad month and a half stretch have inflated his numbers to be bloated but a bad stretch compared to 2.5 excellent seasons shouldn’t scare you from re-signing him.
Given the uncertainty to what you can expect from Aaron Sanchez next season, they should also look to re-sign Brett Anderson who’s been terrific since joining the Blue Jays with a 6.14 K/9, 1.64 BB/9 and 3.27 ERA. Anderson could be a nice depth piece should he wish to come back or if the Blue Jays decide to re-sign him.
For the purposes of this article, let’s operate under the assumption the Blue Jays bring back both of Estrada and Anderson, you have the following looking rotation for 2018:
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- Marcus Stroman
- J.A. Happ
- Marco Estrada
- Aaron Sanchez
- Brett Anderson
The Blue Jays may even decide to bring back Estrada, Anderson, and sign another veteran free agent like Alex Cobb or Jason Vargas to add to the back end of the rotation depth. That would push Anderson down to 6th. The question then becomes, what to do with Joe Biagini?
In the situation above where Anderson returns as the 5th guy, given the talent gap between the major leagues and the minors for quality starting pitching options should someone go down with an injury, Joe Biagini should 100% start the season as a starter in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. Biagini would be the first guy ready to step in for an injured starter and would add to the 2 other depth options of Chris Rowley and Ryan Borucki. That could make for a nice Bisons rotation.
The other reason why Biagini should be starting pitching depth in Buffalo is due to how good the bullpen has become with the rise of Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera, and Dominic Leone. Of course, they could be just as good or falter a tad but add Barnes, Tepera, and Leone to Roberto Osuna and a resurgent Aaron Loup, you have a great 5 to start the 2018 bullpen with. That allows for the Blue Jays to use Biagini as a starter in AAA to begin the season. Unless they add multiple starting pitchers for depth purposes which would allow for Biagini to go back to the bullpen, he should be starting depth.
Of course, Biagini may end up starting the year in the Blue Jays rotation should they not bring back one of Anderson or Estrada and add another starter. However, I highly doubt that they don’t bring back one of Anderson and Estrada plus add another starter for depth purposes.
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Given that Joe Biagini has not solidified himself as a starter with his inconsistent outings in his two stints in the rotation, his status for where he sits for 2018 remains very much up in the air. It all depends on how the 2018 off-season shakes out, but as of now, I say Biagini begins the season as a depth starter for the 2018 season with near 100% certainty.