Blue Jays: Who will be the team’s fifth starting pitcher?

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 21: Manager Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays signals the bullpen to make a pitching change against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the eighth inning of a Major League Baseball game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 21, 2019 in Oakland, California. the Blue Jays won the game 5-4. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 21: Manager Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays signals the bullpen to make a pitching change against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the eighth inning of a Major League Baseball game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 21, 2019 in Oakland, California. the Blue Jays won the game 5-4. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 7 : Anthony Kay #70 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in his Major League debut during the bottom of the second inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 7 : Anthony Kay #70 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in his Major League debut during the bottom of the second inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images) /

Anthony Kay

My dark horse candidate to win the job would have to be Anthony Kay, even if he’s likely 7th or 8th on the depth chart at the moment.

Kay arrived in Toronto last July in the trade for Marcus Stroman, with the Blue Jays also getting Simeon Woods Richardson in the exchange. The left-hander was dominant over 12 starts in Double-A and had mixed results at the next level both in Syracuse before the trade, and in Buffalo after it. However, he performed better than his numbers showed, which eventually led to a MLB promotion and his big league debut.

The southpaw threw 14 innings over three appearances and looked pretty good despite posting a 5.79 ERA. He pitched 5.2 innings of four-hit baseball against the Rays in his debut, allowing just two earned runs and striking out eight. He was knocked around by the Yankees in his second appearance when he gave up five runs over 4.1, and then finished strong with four innings against the Orioles on September 19th, earning his first MLB win.

According to comments from a National League scout on www.mlb.com, Kay’s ceiling could be as high as a top of the rotation starter. In fact, the comment that was quoted (granted, prior to the Blue Jays signing Roark and Ryu) was, “He’s (Toronto’s) best starter”, which is certainly an encouraging thing to read about the 24-year-old.

Last season was Kay’s first one back from Tommy John surgery, and as he continues to work on getting back all of his power and control, there’s a good chance that the Marcus Stroman trade is going to look even better than it already does for the Blue Jays. As for Kay, I suspect he’ll likely start the year in Triple-A, but don’t be surprised if he forces his way to the big leagues at the first sign of trouble.

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