To begin this season, hopes were high that Sean Reid-Foley could replicate and even improve upon his short time in the MLB during 2018. With rough starts in both Toronto and Buffalo this season, the right-hander is back and should get a second crack at starting.
He would make his MLB debut with the club in 2018 due to injuries in the starting rotation, and would start seven games before the end of the season.
While his 2-4 record and 5.13 weren’t great numbers by any means, Reid-Foley showed flashes a brilliance against his opponents like the Miami Marlins on September 2, where he struck out 10, walked one, and gave up only one earned run.
He also pitched well against tougher teams like the New York Yankees, where he would go five innings striking out 10 and giving up two hits with no earned runs.
SRF did have some rough starts during his short season, with four out of seven games he started being less than five innings and giving up three or more walks on five of those outings.
After spring training this year, SRF would make a spot start (due to injuries) for the Blue Jays on April 1st against the Baltimore Orioles. Lasting only two innings, he would give up three earned runs, four hits, and would walk two batters with three strikeouts.
This would be his only start of the season in the MLB so far, as he would go down to the Buffalo Bisons right after that appearance.
Once he was in AAA, the rough starts continued and his ERA before rejoining the Jays bullpen was a lofty 5.87.
Used as a starter for almost all of his career, I believe SRF should be thrown back into the starting rotation for another crack at beginning games.
Now before you go yelling at me that I am a terrible writer and he is the worst pitcher and has an abysmal ERA, let me explain myself (then you can get the pitchforks out).
One reason for this theory is because of the opener strategy. I‘m not a big fan of the opener method. Some people are, some people aren’t. I think the intentions behind this method make sense in theory, but the cost/risk analysis is too high. This is because it can be physically taxing on the bullpen and can impact relief pitching decisions in subsequent games.
By using 4-5 relief pitchers for multiple innings in one game, as well as draining out long man Sam Gaviglio, if a starter like Aaron Sanchez gets hurt and comes out during the 2nd or 3rd inning, the team will be at a real disadvantage with relief pitchers later that series.
The reason I mention this is because the exact scenario happened on April 21st against the Oakland Athletics (and on other occasions this season).
The only difference is that the bullpen was more rested and the relief corps could eat up innings with multiple pitchers.
Could SRF be used as a long reliever? Sure, you could make that argument. But I truly believe he has the makeup and his ability to strike out hitters through multiple rounds in the opponents batting order makes SRF an effective starter.
Will he be the teams #1 pitcher? Most likely not, but he could slot in as a solid #3-#5 pitcher who can keep teams on their toes and hopefully eat up some innings.
He has to keep the walks down and not give up hits like earlier this year (obviously), but with a team dependant on a starter like Edwin Jackson (when he returns from the IL), Clay Buchholz and Matt Shoemaker on the long term IL, and Ryan Borucki still 2+ weeks away from MLB action, why not give SRF a shot at starting again?
The worst thing that can happen is he gets lit up and gets taken out in the 2nd or 3rd inning, and Gaviglio comes in and tries to save the day. Basically an impromptu case of using the opener strategy (I will allow it this time).
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To be completely honest, if he isn’t going to start games in the MLB, he might as well get sent back to Buffalo and keep being stretched out as a starter.
He is too young (23) to be moved to the bullpen full-time and with only two years of AAA and MLB experience, it would be jumping the gun to shut the door on SRF being an effective starter.
He has the potential to be a solid starting pitcher and with the rebuild in full swing, I can’t find a reason not to give him another chance to start some major league games. Chances are the Blue Jays feel the same way, but we’ll see how they decide to use him going forward.
Worst case scenario, he goes back to AAA and goes back to the drawing board, waiting for a Marcus Stroman/Sanchez trade or an injury to the rotation to come back North.
If he can’t figure out how to start games after another full season or two, then management should consider the bullpen option. Again, this may still be jumping the gun a bit.
The Blue Jays are 23.5 games back in the division, and the organization might as well see if one of their top pitching prospects can hack it out as a major league starter. What have the Jays really got to lose besides ball games and fans?