You’ve gotta hand it to the young pitching staff for their performance since the All-Star break, and to coaches like ete Walker and harlie Montoyo for how they’ve been handled.
When the Blue Jays traded away Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, as well as bullpen arms like Daniel Hudson, Joe Biagini, and David Phelps, I really thought that an already thin pitching staff would be in way over their heads.
With the exception of a few games like the series opener with the L.A. Dodgers earlier this week, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff has really held their own, and even improved since they lost most of their notable arms to the trade market. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see this coming, but they’ve been getting a lot of worthwhile contributions lately.
The more you look at how they’ve navigated the last few weeks, the more unlikely it seems. The only regular starting pitchers they have right now are Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack, and the latter has been an unlikely rotation hero since joining the big league roster. He lowered his ERA to 3.63 after seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers last night, and has been giving them a quality outing more often than not.
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He’s not alone though, as the Blue Jays have had solid contributions from other unlikely sources like Wilmer Font, Justin Shafer, Derek Law, Jason Adam, and others. There have been plenty of guys that have ridden the shuttle between Buffalo and Toronto as well, such as Brock Stewart, Thomas Pannone, Sean-Reid Foley, and more.
The casual Blue Jay fan wouldn’t have known several of those names a few months ago, and yet somehow the Blue Jays are putting together a more than serviceable effort from their pitching staff. A lot of the credit has to go to the pitchers themselves, but I also have to hand it to both Charlie Montoyo and Pete Walker, as well as several other coaches throughout the organization. The coaching staff is doing excellent work with these inexperienced young arms.
I wasn’t a big fan of the concept of an “opener” being used in Toronto, and wondered if Montoyo would bring that strategy with him from Tampa Bay, where he worked as a coach last season. He has done just that, but admittedly I’m starting to see more value in the approach, especially with a pitching staff like the one he’s working with these days. He’s managed to get the most out of the majority of these guys by putting them in positions to succeed. That’s been a big part of the reason for improvement from the staff overall.
We also have to hand it to Pete Walker, as he’s done an excellent job of preparing a ton of rookie and inexperienced pitchers to perform at the highest level, which is no easy task. The fact that the coaching staff seemingly put this together on the fly, and managed to get improvement in the numbers, is something worth mentioning and even celebrating.
And yes, I still feel this way even after last night’s blown save. They held the Dodgers, the National League’s best offensive team, to just five runs in two games.