Blue Jays: The verdict on Biagini as a starter

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 12: Joe Biagini /

Joe Biagini made his final start of the season on Friday against the Yankees, closing the book on his 2017 campaign. What will his role be in 2018?

Assuming that Aaron Sanchez can find a way to get healthy in time for spring training, the Blue Jays appear to have their top four spots in their rotation spoken for. In addition to Sanchez, the Blue Jays will return Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ, the latter two who will be free agents at the end of the 2018 season.

The front office will have plenty of decisions to make over the offseason, and the fifth starter’s position has to be near the top of their priority list. Of course, the answer could already be on the roster, as they’ve been auditioning Joe Biagini as a starter throughout the season.

The opinions are pretty divided on the big right-hander, as the results have been pretty mixed for him. He had a very effective season as a reliever in 2016, and performed admirably in the role this year as well, despite finishing with a 4.26 EA in 31.1 innings in relief. He was expected to make up an important part of the bullpen this year, but with the need in the rotation and the emergence of guys like Ryan Tepera and Dominic Leone, the front office felt it was a worthwhile experiment.

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He entered Friday’s start with a 5.75 ERA over 17 starts before his 18th and last turn when he gave up three earned runs over five innings against the Yankees. Obviously those numbers aren’t great at all, but there is more to unpack here than an inflated ERA.

He’s had some terrible outings which have pushed his numbers into ugly territory, but he’s also had some great outings as well. For example, his ERA raised almost an entire point after his dud against the White Sox on June 16th, when he allowed six earned runs in one inning. Take away that start and a couple stinkers this month against the Red Sox and Twins, and the numbers are at least “serviceable”.

You do want to see some consistency in the rotation, but we have to keep in mind that this was Biagini’s first time starting since before the beginning of the 2016 season. He was a starter in the San Francisco Giants’ organization before the Blue Jays selected him in the Rule 5 draft, and converted him to a reliever to keep him on their big league roster. He had never made a big league start, and the Blue Jays didn’t even have the luxury of stretching him out before putting him in the rotation for the first time this year. If he’s given the proper time and schedule to prepare, should we expect better results?

Ultimately, it’ll likely come down to what’s available on the free agent market and what the price tags might be. The Blue Jays have some other spots to spend money on as well this offseason, so if they believe Biagini can get the job done, don’t be surprised to see the front office give him the chance to earn the job.

Next: The Donaldson trade rumours have already begun