Blue Jays: Looking at the internal options for the last rotation spot next season
A southpaw starting pitcher in the Blue Jays farm system, Zach Logue split last season between AA and AAA and would finish the year with a combined 3.67 ERA through 25 appearances. Logue actually posted better stats after he was promoted to AAA, finishing the year with the Bisons and throwing to a 3.32 ERA through 18 appearances with a 1.108 WHIP and only 33 earned runs through 89.1 innings of work.
He will most likely begin the 2022 season down in AAA but Logue has enough upside that the Blue Jays decided to him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft that will most likely still take sometime early next year (once a new CBA is in place). A strong Spring Training and a solid start down in Buffalo could put the left-hander in a great spot to be an injury replacement or to be used in the bullpen later in the season.
Another last-minute addition to the 40-man roster this offseason, Bowden Francis was acquired by the Blue Jays last summer as part of the Rowdy Tellez – Trevor Richards deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.
With the Bisons in AAA, Francis would appear in 14 games and posted a 4.19 ERA through 73.0 innings with 71 strikeouts and a 1.192 WHIP. He saw his numbers elevate after joining the Blue Jays farm system, with his K/9 dropping 0.3 points (8.8), his BB/9 increasing a full point to 3.8, and his HR/9 going from 0.9 to 1.8.
Like Logue, Francis will most likely begin the year in AAA and should be in line for a potential Major League debut in 2022 if someone on the rotation goes down with an injury.
Part of me wants to give Pearson another shot in the rotation considering he did start to find a groove towards the end of the 2021 campaign but the injury risk is always in the back of my mind. It makes sense that the club could use him as a middle relief option this year to get some innings under his belt and have a more experienced arm like Stripling or Hatch take the fifth spot.
If the club does intend to keep Pearson as a full-time reliever next season, I think Stripling will take the last spot in the rotation but will have a short leash. If he struggles, Hatch or Kay should be right on his heels to take his spot in the rotation and send him back to the bullpen.