After the Blue Jays acquired Jaime Garcia on Thursday, they now have five solid starters. With that in mind, what is the best way to use Joe Biagini going forward?
The Blue Jays have quietly had a very productive offseason, and may have put the finishing touches on their MLB roster on Thursday when they signed Jaime Garcia to round out their rotation. The pitching staff had been a source of discussion all throughout the offseason, as one of the biggest questions was whether Joe Biagini could or should be the fifth starter. Now that Garcia is in the fold, he would need a spring injury to get back into the top five, and that’s okay.
Adding Garcia to a stable that includes Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and Marco Estrada, the Blue Jays arguably have the best top five in their division, but of course that will all hinge on the health and/or performance of their hurlers. That said, they’re in a much better position than they were 24 hours ago with Garcia’s addition, as the depth alone is a huge boost to the pitching stable.
His acquisition also brings about another question for the Blue Jays: What should they do with Joe Biagini now?
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We know that he’s come into spring training with the mentality of a starting pitcher, and according to photos that popped up from the first day of workouts, it would appear that he put in some serious work to get into shape this winter for the role. For many relievers that are transitioning (back) to the rotation, the biggest challenge is building up the stamina to handle the job, and it looks like Biagini worked hard on that task.
Now, the Blue Jays will have to decide where he provides the most value for the ball club, both in the short and long term future.
On one hand, there is an obvious need for rotation depth, and Biagini would slot at the head of the list beyond the top five. It would also mean he would likely start his season in Triple A Buffalo, which wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing. It would allow him to continue working on his craft as a starting pitcher, and hopefully provide some valuable insurance in case Aaron Sanchez deals with blister issues again, Marco Estrada’s back acts up, or anything else that could potentially happen.
On the other, Biagini could shift back to the bullpen in order to help make up for the loss of Dominic Leone, who was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Randal Grichuk deal, and provided a ton of value for John Gibbons‘ bullpen last season. Biagini has performed much better in that role as a big leaguer, but also hasn’t had the proper opportunity to prepare as a starter the way he is now, so we don’t know for sure where he’s best suited, even if we think we do.
My guess is the Blue Jays will start him in Buffalo to pad their rotation depth, and if the need arises throughout the season and/or the team starts to make a serious run at the playoffs, Biagini could be moved to the bullpen as long as health in the rotation permits. For now, I would expect that Ross Atkins and company like the idea of adding him to the starting depth, which also includes young arms like Ryan Borucki that could benefit from being one notch further down the totem pole as well in order to gain experience.
Regardless of what they decide, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff is in a better position today than they were 24 hours ago, and that’s a very good thing. Having the luxury to use Biagini in a couple different ways only raises the ceiling, regardless of how he’s used.