Blue Jays: Dark horse rotation candidates for 2019
Despite the fact that many Blue Jays fans were disappointed with the way things played out with the Roberto Osuna saga, Ross Atkins and the front office should be applauded for the return they got, especially given the circumstances.
They ended up getting Ken Giles in the deal to help fill their closer needs, but they also picked up a couple other assets in pitchers David Paulino and Hector Perez. For former could very well factor into the Blue Jays plans for 2019, and has a decent chance to be a pleasant surprise.
Like Pannone, Paulino served an 80 game suspension in the 2018 season, which meant that his chance to pitch last year was pretty abbreviated. He did make it to the Blue Jays for six appearances and threw 6.2 innings, and there’s a good chance that if he’s not in the rotation that he could be a member of the bullpen.
He feels like a long shot to start the season in the rotation, but depending on what happens with additions and subtractions from the group, it’s possible Paulino could be a factor in the spring.
Speaking of starters who came over in trade last season, the Blue Jays managed to get something for Josh Donaldson despite the fact that he was unable to return to the Blue Jays before the end of August, and was probably still at least a little banged up when he was sent to Cleveland.
The Blue Jays received received Julian Merryweather in return from Cleveland, who had to miss the 2018 after getting Tommy John surgery. I don’t think anyone should expect him back at the beginning of the 2019 season either, so he’s more likely a candidate for the rotation later in the season.
At 27, he’s a little bit older for a “prospect”, but that’s not always a death knell for a pitcher, especially one who has gone through Tommy John surgery. These days it almost feels like a rite of passage for hurlers, or worse, an inevitable fate, so hopefully Merryweather has gotten the arm troubles out of the way. His potential was well profiled by our own Jim Scott not long after the acquisition, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
While the return from a former MVP in Donaldson might have felt light, don’t let that fact allow you to harbour any ill will toward Merryweather. There’s a solid chance that he could end up as a big league starter, and if that ends up being the case then the Blue Jays may have done okay on the trade after all. Only time will tell, and at some point Merryweather will likely get his first chance to show us what he’s made of.