Blue Jays: Dark horse rotation candidates for 2019
Coming over in the trade for Aledmys Diaz was a pretty reasonable return, especially when you look at the value of pitching in baseball these days.
Some people argue that the Astros wouldn’t have let Trent Thornton get away if they thought he was going to be a stud pitcher in the big leagues, but that might be a little short sighted. Like the Blue Jays, the Astros were facing a bit of a crunch with their 40 man roster, which likely lead to part of the reason they were willing to deal Thornton. They also needed to fill their utility position left by free agent Marwin Gonzalez, and it would appearance that Diaz will be fitted for that role in 2019.
Thornton spent the 2018 season with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzles and made 22 starts, and 24 appearances overall. He threw 124.1 innings, had an ERA of 4.42, and a WHIP of 1.198. It sounds like he fares pretty well in terms of spin rate, so hopefully that newer metric will play in his favour as he advances to the highest level.
Like Pannone and Reid-Foley, I expect that Thornton will be given a legitimate look this spring, and chances are we’ll see him making his big league debut at some point next year.
I probably could have included Sam Gaviglio in the same tier as Reid-Foley or Pannone, but I have a funny feeling that the ends up serving in the bullpen to start the 2019 season.
I do expect that he’ll make some starts when the need arises, but his ability to fill the swing-man role could be very valuable, especially if the Blue Jays and new manager Charlie Montoyo decide to use the “Opener” concept at all. I also feel like the Blue Jays are trending younger, and at 28 I’m not sure the front office will view him as a long term solution in the rotation unless he really over-performs.
He ended up eating quite a few valuable innings for the Blue Jays in 2018, making 24 starts and 26 appearances overall, tossing 123.2 frames in total. He started out better than the overall numbers look, but he ended up with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP. I’m sure he’ll also be on the consideration list this spring, but don’t be surprised if some of the younger, higher-upside guys end up getting the first look, at least for the rotation.