Blue Jays: Joe Biagini fits nicely as the sixth starter

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

It’s a common baseball cliché that you can never have too much-starting pitching. Therefore, it makes sense for the Blue Jays to keep Joe Biagini stretched out as a starter this season. Despite struggling in the majors last year, there is a reason to believe Biagini can become an established major league starter in the future.

Allowing Joe Biagini to develop into a capable starter would be a great move for the Blue Jays for a number of reasons.

First, as shown in 2017, losing a starting pitcher is incredibly difficult when you don’t have a serviceable sixth starter. Last year, that job was given to Mat Latos who pitched to a dreadful 0-1 record, 6.60 ERA, and 1.800 WHIP.

Even during his slump last year, Biagini was still better than Mat Latos. So, if a starter goes down this year, which has already happened with Marcus Stroman, the team can trust a much more respectable arm in Joe Biagini.

As well, three of the current five starters for the Blue Jays could be hitting free agency at the end of this season. Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ can both walk freely and Jaime Garcia may leave if the team option is exercised.
Thus, the need for starting pitching may be dire next year. By giving Biagini time to work as a starter in the minor leagues, there is a greater chance that he will be able to fix his mistakes and be ready for a full-time job in 2019.

Finally, Biagini has spent his entire career as a starter in the minors before being taken by the Blue Jays in the rule-5 draft. In his career, his numbers show that he has the ability to perform admirably in a starter’s role. Most recently, while playing AA-level baseball in the San Francisco Giants system, Biagini pitched to a 10-7 record with a great 2.42 ERA and a 1.120 WHIP.

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Biagini’s numbers were below average to finish the year in his try-out as a starter last year in the majors. However, Biagini was a good starter when he was first given his opportunity with the big club.

Through the month of May, Biagini had 5 GS, pitched 23.1 innings, and held a respectable 3.89 ERA. These numbers are more than serviceable for a fifth starter. Also, in his first two starts in June, Biagini pitched 7.0 innings each time and gave up a collective 4 earned runs.

However, part way through the season the wheels seemed to fall off for Biagini. He was lost in a slump that he couldn’t escape from. The biggest problem that Biagini faced during this time was keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Through May and his two great starts in June, Biagini held a 0.5 HR9. A good number, and a number right on-line with his past career. As a ground ball pitcher, he works his best when the ball stays on the ground and out of the air.

While in his slump, Biagini pitched 57.1 innings and gave up 10 home runs. That works out to be a 1.6 HR9. This number is higher than any other HR9 numbers in his career so it is reasonable to assume he could work these numbers back down.

Case in point, when sent down to Buffalo to work on starting, Biagini lowered this bloated 1.6 HR9 back down to a more reasonable 1.0 HR9. Also, while in Buffalo, Biagini had great numbers with a 1-1 record, 3.12 ERA, and a 1.096 WHIP.

As well, his numbers suggest that this problem can be solved over time. As previously shown, in 2015, Biagini started 22 games and kept his HR9 to a minuscule 0.3.

Therefore, it seems that the biggest goal for Biagini’s development as a starter is to limit the home run ball. Without these home runs, Biagini is a more than capable starter—as shown by his past numbers.

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By allowing Biagini time to develop into a starter, the Blue Jays provide security for now and for the future. Therefore, sending Biagini back to the minors after his probable stint in the major league rotation is the best call for the current and future Blue Jays.