Blue Jays Mid-Terms: Starting Pitching

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 16: Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by J.A. Happ #33 and teammates on the top step of the dugout as he comes out of the game in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Washington Nationals at Rogers Centre on June 16, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 16: Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by J.A. Happ #33 and teammates on the top step of the dugout as he comes out of the game in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Washington Nationals at Rogers Centre on June 16, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

With the season at the half-way point, we should, and will evaluate every pitcher who has started for the Toronto Blue Jays so far this season.

Now I’m not going to lie to you, most of the grades that I’ll be coming up with won’t be terrific. The way that I’ll be working down this list is by who has started the least games, to has started the most.

Ryan Borucki

Games started- Four



Ryan Borucki is a nice little gem for the Blue Jays. He was called up this year, and at a nice young 24-years-old, he appears to be starting a long, solid career as a starter. Now I know he was just optioned to the minors, but don’t be deterred by that. His last start wasn’t great allowing four runs in just three innings, but he is battle tested.

More from Jays Journal

Three of his four starts were against arguably the best teams in the American League right now in the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros, who all have great line-ups. Against the Astros and Yankees combined, he allowed three earned runs over 13 innings. Not too bad. He has a lot of potential, and soon he will be be a good third starter. Maybe even better. There’s no judging how high his ceiling is at this point.

Grade: B-

Joe Biagini (As a starter) 

Games started- Four



Oh boy. This was pretty brutal to watch. Toronto kept Biagini down at the beginning of the year just in case a starter went out, and low and behold that happened. Marcus Stroman went out with shoulder issues early in the year and Biagini stepped up as a starter. He didn’t do great. In fact he pitched terribly. I wish I could say more good things about his pitching, but when your opponents are hitting a slash line of .328/.411/.494 there are not many great things to say. But at least he’s funny.

Grade: F

Sam Gaviglio (As a starter)

Games started-11

ERA- 4.84

IP- 52.1

Sam Gaviglio hasn’t been too fantastic as a starter this year, even if he seemingly came out of nowhere to help the rotation. Nothing flashy, with a record of 2-3 you get what you’re paying for. When he’s at home he pitches very well. Through 32 innings pitched he has an ERA of 1.97. Pretty much everywhere else is a different story. Through 23.1 innings he has a combined ERA of 7.15. In any ordinary rotation, he wouldn’t even be a thought to start. But we know how the Blue Jays’ starters have been all season.

Grade: C-

Marcus Stroman

Games started- 12

ERA- 5.46

IP- 66

This has already been covered by a fellow Jays Journal contributor, Travis Aylward. It’s a good read, but I still would like to give my take on the situation.

Stroman has had quite the miserable season that has seen his shoulder not cooperate with him, as well as some relationship struggles, mostly with the media. But we aren’t here to grade that, we’re here to grade his performance on the mound.

Stroman started the year of April with a whopping 8.88 ERA until he went out with shoulder problems. Since he’s come back he’s been better, but still not great. The biggest highlight would be when he went seven innings and allowed only one run against the Braves. Other than that there’s not much positive to talk about. He has a 2-7 record, and things aren’t looking up for him.

Grade: D+

Jaime Garcia

Games started- 13

ERA- 6.16

IP- 61.1

Garcia has recently been moved to the bullpen since being taken off the 10-day DL. As a starter he was not good. He had about four quality starts all season. Not to mention only making it past six or more innings just three times. Like I said, not good. Based on averages, players hit best against him the first time through the line up with a whopping .283. As well as having a OBP of .400. What else can I say except that it’s been a tough season for Garcia.

Grade: D-

Aaron Sanchez

Games started- 15

ERA- 4.52

IP- 79.2

Aaron Sanchez has seen some time out for almost a month now with more finger issues. Before then, he was able to be alright, at least by a Blue Jays pitching standards. Obviously it’s nothing terrific but he’s done better for himself.

The way I look at it, he’s a pitcher who relies on a lot of movement, which means to get a maximum amount of rotation on the baseball that will put a lot of stress on his fingers. That is probably the main reason for the blisters. He will need to adapt to prevent further injuries. He might need some tweaking to figure out what works for him, but once he does, he will be a lights out starter again… hopefully.

Grade: C+

Marco Estrada

Games started- 17

ERA- 4.72

IP- 89.2

Estrada went out almost immediately into his last start with a problem in his glute. Fortunately he shouldn’t be out for too long, although it certainly doesn’t help his potential trade value to be on the shelf.

Since the beginning of the season he has slowly been improving. His ERA in April was 6.75 and last month in June he had an ERA of 2.35. If he continues on this trajectory, he should be able to reach where he has been for the past couple of seasons with Toronto. His style of pitching is mostly relying on placing of his fastball, and his killer change-up, and when both are off, he’s not good. But it looks as if he is finding it again, which is promising for Jays fans.

Grade: B-

J.A. Happ

Games started- 19

ERA- 4.29

IP- 109

Well finally we get to someone who feels like has been one of the only good players on this Toronto team. J.A. Happ has been a bright spot in a rotation that doesn’t feel like there’s much going right for them. In fact he’s playing so consistently well that he’s garnering trade interest from multiple other teams. He has a record of 10-6, which is the only winning record for any of the starters in Toronto.

Next: Marcus Stroman: Young, passionate, and misunderstood

He can handle any batter that comes his way and continuously keeps the Jays in the game so they have an opportunity to win. Happ is our best pitcher easily, but by MLB standards he is above average. A very promising and consistent trade target who has done pretty darn well for the team in their first half.

Grade: B+