Blue Jays could target ground ball pitchers on open market

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 03: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Atlanta Braves fields a ground ball hit by Harrison Bader (not pictured) of the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning in game one of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 03: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Atlanta Braves fields a ground ball hit by Harrison Bader (not pictured) of the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning in game one of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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As the Toronto Blue Jays attempt to solidify their starting rotation this offseason, there are a number of effective free-agent ground ball pitchers available on the market.

The friendly confines of the Rogers Centre greatly benefit the batter as the ball tends to fly out of the concrete bandbox at an accelerated rate. According to ESPN Park Factors, the Rogers Centre ranked first out of all the MLB stadiums in home runs in 2019 with a ratio of 1.317.

This being said, there are a number of free-agent pitchers whose propensity for inducing ground balls could bode well north of the border for the Blue Jays in 2020.

Fangraphs estimates the league average for ground balls among pitchers is 44% while a ground ball pitcher tends to be upwards of 50% or more. When using that percentage, here are a look at the available ground ball pitchers.

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Dallas Keuchel has the highest ground ball percentage among free-agent starters with a rate of 60.1 % in 2019. The 31-year old sits at a career ground ball clip of 58.9% while also fielding his position very well having won four Gold Gloves during his eight seasons in the majors.

Keuchel did not sign with the Braves until June of last year and could be looking to get a deal done sooner than later this time around. The left-hander earned $13 million on a one-year pact with Atlanta last season.

Brett Anderson also benefits well from the ground ball inducing 333 ground balls in 2019 for 54.5%. The 31-year old went 13-9 with a 3.89 earned run average for the Athletics last season while earning a modest $1.5 million.

Anderson made seven starts for the Blue Jays in 2017 but did not fare well posting an inflated 5.13 earned run average. The southpaw could be a backend of the rotation candidate this offseason.

Former Dodgers hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu is no stranger to the worm burner having elicited 280 ground balls last season for a 50.4%. Ryu is fresh off a campaign where he finished second in NL Cy Young voting after posting an impressive 14-5 record with a 2.32 earned run average.

The 32-year old won’t come cheap after earning $17.9 million in his walk year, the native of South Korea would definitely shore up the Blue Jays pitching needs at the front of the rotation.

Free-agent pitcher Ivan Nova could also be a possibility as someone who could do well in Toronto. Nova induced 296 ground ball in 2019 for 46.1%. Nova had a 4.72 earned run average in 34 starts for the White Sox while earning $9.167 million in his walk year.

Next. Discussing baseball and Blue Jays with Anthony Kay. dark

In case your wondering, Stephen Strasburg had a 51.1% ground ball rate in 2019 while Gerrit Cole was considerably lower at 40.3%

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