Toronto Blue Jays: The Current Starting Rotation for 2021
As the MLB offseason continues to drag, many Blue Jays fans are waiting on management to make some sort of move. With many speculation articles out there about who they are going to sign, I am going to take a look at what the team has right now as a starting rotation for 2021.
The Opening Day starter will be Hyun Jin Ryu and he will continue to be the Ace of the staff for the Blue Jays in 2021. Ryu is entering year two of a four year deal that he signed last offseason for $80 million dollars. Not only was he the Blue Jays best pitcher in 2020, he was one of the best in the American League as he finished third in Cy Young voting and even received a vote for the AL MVP. Ryu has now had three consecutive seasons of posting an ERA below 2.70 and is coming off his career best strikeout per inning season as he averaged 9.7 per nine innings.
The rest of the rotation is where it gets quite dicey. Nate Pearson fills in the second spot in the rotation, but ideally he would slot into the third or fourth spot in the group and be surrounded by more capable and experienced pitchers. Pearson pitched just 18 innings last year because of injury and the controversial issue of getting an extra year of control. Pearson has the highest potential of any pitchers in the organization and could surpass Ryu by the end of his contract.
The middle spot in the rotation would go to trade deadline acquisition Robbie Ray. Ray was acquired for Travis Bergen for the playoff run last season and then signed back with the team on a one-year $8 million contract for the upcoming season. Ray is a hard throwing left handed pitcher that gets a lot of strikeouts, but also walks a lot of batters. Ray is better suited as a #6 guy that pitches out of the bullpen and can slide into the rotation when injuries arise.
Filling into the fourth spot is Thomas Hatch. The 26-year old is coming off a very impressive rookie season that saw him pitch 26.1 innings and post a 2.73 ERA. Again, this is not the ideal situation and I am not convinced he is a starting pitcher when the major league roster actual gets filled out. Hatch was depended on more and more as the season went on out of the bullpen. However, he was a starting pitcher through his minor league career, so if the Blue Jays have a deeper rotation I wouldn’t mind him getting more spot starts during the season. This spot in the rotation could also go to Ross Stripling, but for now I’m going to predict Hatch lands in this role.
The final spot will go to a pitcher that I don’t think has earned a major league spot anymore, but has one year left on a $12 million contract and that is Tanner Roark. Roark struggled mightily last year as he was able to get through five innings just four times. He posted a 6.80 ERA and 1.74 WHIP, but due to the contract he will be handed a spot in the rotation, however it is likely to be a very short leash. Roark frustrated many fans and to think they could have had $24 million to spend elsewhere rather than a fifth starter.
In no way do I feel like this is going to be the rotation to start the year, as I feel Ross Atkins will bring in at least one front of the rotation pitcher, hopefully two. From the above list of pitchers, I am hoping just Pearson and Ryu end up in the rotation. What does your current rotation look like?