Blue Jays should spend some money on the rotation
Although the Blue Jays have the potential for a strong rotation, there is a hole in the 5th spot, and that’s assuming Aaron Sanchez is healthy.
In 2016, the Blue Jays enjoyed extraordinary health in their rotation, only using seven arms to make it through the season, and that includes the trade addition of Francisco Liriano. In 2017 it was a totally different story, as the Blue Jays had to use 14 different starters, and obviously to varying degrees of success.
Looking ahead to the 2018 season, the Blue Jays have the potential to have a strong rotation if their key pieces can stay healthy. Marcus Stroman took a huge step forward in 2017, and finished third in the AL with a 3.06 ERA, and established himself as one of the most exciting young arms in baseball. J.A. Happ missed some time on the DL, but was solid overall, and Marco Estrada was a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde case, but made it through the year without any missed time. Francisco Liriano was largely ineffective, and was eventually traded to Houston before the deadline.
It was Aaron Sanchez who was the greatest disappointment, and not because of his performance, but a lack thereof. The 2016 American League ERA champion made just eight starts, and managed just 36 innings, much to the disappointment of excited Blue Jays fans. The budding ace made four separate trips to the disabled list, and he and the training staff were left scratching their heads on how to solve a blister/fingernail/tendon issue that plagued him all year.
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The hope is that extended rest through the end of the year, and the offseason will get him back to a clean slate, and hopefully this time they’ll be armed with the proper tools to combat the issue. Sanchez and John Gibbons were even on camera chatting about the issue with former Blue Jay, Al Leiter, who now works in the Yankees organization.
As much as I believe in Sanchez and hope for the best, I see this situation a lot like I do the middle infield for the Blue Jays. You can almost bank on one or both of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis missing some time on the DL, so now you’re just being irresponsible if you don’t plan for it. The Blue Jays did just that by keeping both Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins on the 25 man roster to begin last season, and the thought is they’ll look to upgrade the position even more this offseason, hoping to have greater depth.
The front office should apply the same principle to the rotation, even as they are already on the hunt for depth, and hopefully a certifiable 5th starter. The narrative around the Blue Jays is they were “hopefully” bring in a legit candidate to compete with Joe Biagini for the role, and in an ideal world would keep him and others in a depth role. It’s talked about as more of a back end starter that needs to be acquired, and chances are that’ll be the type that the Blue Jays pursue.
However, I would argue that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins should consider put more resources into the rotation than that, and treat the situation like you have to plan for life with Sanchez. If he’s healthy and performing as he’s capable of, then you’re ahead of the game, which is never a bad thing in the pitching department.
Next: The David Price trade: How it looks 2 years later
With names like Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, or even Jaime Garcia available on the market, the Blue Jays can, and should do a little better than just a depth starter this offseason.