Blue Jays: Why isn’t anyone talking about the need for pitching?

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Joe Biagini
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Joe Biagini /

Much of the Blue Jays’ offseason has been focused on improving the offense and position-player depth. However, does a bigger problem lie ahead if the Blue Jays don’t add to the starting five?

Let’s start with a simple fact – the Blue Jays media and fans alike seem to be entranced with the idea of improving the offense through an outfield acquisition. Perhaps it’s because of Jose Bautista‘s appalling 2017 season, or Christian Yelich‘s tantalizing availability, or the need to counter the Yankees’ acquisition of some fellow named Giancarlo Stanton. Whatever the case, it seems like a foregone conclusion that much of the offseason money will not be spent on pitching. Should this be a cause for concern?

Assessing the Blue Jays Starters

If the season started today, the Blue Jays would roll out a starting five of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, and Joe Biagini. On paper, that’s one of the league’s better rotations that has more than enough talent to give the Jays a chance to win in every game.

However, looking more carefully, only Stroman enters the 2018 season without question marks. Sanchez is coming off an injury-riddled 2017 season with an unpredictable blister issue, Happ missed significant time with elbow inflammation, Estrada dealt with start-to-start inconsistency, and Biagini has never pitched more than 130 innings in a season. Heck, is Biagini even going to be effective as a starter?

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Adding to the concerns is the fact that the Blue Jays don’t really have any reliable starters to pitch every fifth day if one or more of the aforementioned five were to go down with an injury. The best option would be Ryan Borucki, the Blue Jays’ top left-handed pitching prospect, but it would be preferable if he had more time to develop in the minors. Other options include Chris Rowley and Thomas Pannone.

Who to Target in Free Agency

So yeah, the Blue Jays are pretty thin on MLB-caliber starters. After the additions of Solarte, Diaz, and Granderson, the direst need of the roster is now insurance options for the starting staff.

Because the Blue Jays don’t have a whole lot of payroll space (a reported $15 million still to spend), it would be wiser to invest in two or three respectable starters versus one (realistic) upper-to-mid tier option such as Cobb or Lynn. Brett Anderson, Jason Vargas and Jaime Garcia lead the list of intriguing southpaw options while Chris Tillman and John Lackey headline the list of solid right-handed pitchers.

The Best Way to Spend the Remaining Money

I’ll be the first to admit it, names like Anderson, Tillman, or Vargas aren’t much cause for excitement. So naturally, it’s easy to understand why fans blame the front office for not signing a high-profile name like Lorenzo Cain, a player who can simultaneously augment the offense and defense.

However, given the state of the Blue Jays roster and payroll limitations, the wisest choice to spend the remaining money would be to shore up the starting five. Why this dire need is being neglected by fans and media still baffles me, but hopefully, the front office knows better than to start the season with only four experienced and proven starters, three of whom still carry some question marks.

Next: Blue Jays: Fred McGriff getting raw deal once again

And who knows, if the Blue Jays address their pitching needs through free agency, then perhaps that sets up a big acquisition that fans desperately through an unexpected trade…Christian Yelich, anyone?