Thursday, February 18, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Projected Starting Rotation

Spring Training is so close you can almost taste it.  Unless you're there, you can't watch a lot of the games, and you really need to rely on the expert analysis of the people that are there to see it unfold.  Unfortunately this isn't that.  This is just the opinion of a die hard Jay fan turned blogger freezing his buns off in Toronto, who fancies himself as pretty knowledgeable in these areas.  The best part of Spring Training for those that can't go, is predicting who the club will bring north for the start of the season.  I will start with your 2016 starting rotation.  I almost always get this wrong, but this year the rotation is easy to predict.  Obviously the following assumes there are no injuries before opening day.

Your Starting Five

1.  Marcus Stroman
The rotation seems a bit sketchy when your projected ace has only made 24 career starts.  That said, he's a career 15-6, and got some post season experience last year, so if you're going to tie your franchise to a relatively untested arm, this would be the one.  If the Stro show goes anything like it should, it will be fun to watch.  Another freak injury to this kid, and the ripple effect will be felt throughout the entire pitching staff.  No pressure.

2.  Marco Estrada
Coming off a career year, where he started as that guy with an undefined role in the 'pen, and that 'we traded Adam Lind for him?' stigma, and finished the year displaying the stones of a cold blooded gangster in post season (while looking remarkably like a young Andy Garcia), he got a 2 year deal, and there's no reason not to slot him into the 2 slot.  I feel as comfortable with him as I would with any pitcher who had never thrown 200 innings at 32.  Not his fault.  A lot of time spent in bullpens.  He was always good, but now he's GRRRRRRRRREAT.

3.  R.A. Dickey
I was going to say R.A. was old, until I looked it up and found out he was born the same year as me.  Now I'll just say he's a great age (for a knuckleballer).  If he's proven one thing as a Blue Jay, it's that he can get you 210 plus innings, and hover around the .500 mark.  With this offence behind him, there's no reason he couldn't win 17 games, but the bats seem to go quiet when he's pitching.  Maybe this year will be different.

4.  J.A. Happ
It only took 2 months as a Pirate for Happ to find treasure.  We had this guy before at a fraction of the price.  He really pitched well in Pittsburgh's pennant race last year, and was rewarded with a 3 year $36 million dollar contract.  The Toronto media doesn't tell you that in the first half of last season, he was awful in Seattle as a fly ball pitcher in a spacious ball park.  Now he'll be a fly ball pitcher in a homer dome.  Do the math.  He is great for stretches, but at 33 it concerns me that he's never won more than 12 games in a season.  That's a million bucks per win this year for his career high.  That said, if he stays healthy I think he'll win at least 13, but when they try to re-sign Bautista and Encarnacion, they're gonna wish they had some of that J.A. Happ money to spend.  This was to make us forget about David Price LOL.

5.  Aaron Sanchez
The 5th spot is the only one that's actually up for grabs.  There is NO WAY that Sanchez doesn't get this coming out of  Spring Training.  The trouble is he's a better relief pitcher at the moment, and the Jays almost always find themselves needing him in that role.  This year will probably be no different, but with Storen joining us, and Sanchez telling the media that he prefers to start, it's a slam dunk that he will.  He's easily the most talented of the contenders.  They see him as a starter long term, but his career high in innings is 133 in 2014.  He needs to get that up to 160 or so, but they might not want him to do 200.  He'll start the season in the rotation.  By August if he's still healthy and they're in a pennant race, and there's another starter waiting in the wings, they'll probably switch him back to the bullpen one last time before they make him a full season starter in 2017,

On The Bubble

6.  Jesse Chavez
In the off season the Jays were facing a lot of uncertainty surrounding their rotation.  Mark Beurhle is a free agent and will likely retire.  Marco Estrada was a free agent.  David Price was a free agent that was going to cost more than the Blue Jays were ever going to spend.  So they flipped Liam Hendricks who came off a great season as one of the most reliable options in the Jays bullpen for former Jay farm-hand Jesse Chavez who after being a career minor leaguer has carved out a nice little career for himself as a 5th starter or long man in the pen.  He was 7-15 last year in Oakland, but to look at his numbers, you would think a bit of run support could have fixed that.  Chavez got squeezed out when the Jays signed Happ, and even more so when Sanchez announced a preference for starting.  We will likely see Chavez in the rotation at some point, either for an injury or when John Gibbons decides to put Sanchez in the bullpen again.  I like Chavez, but it says here that we will regret dealing Hendricks.

7.  Gavin Floyd
Here's an ex-factor if there is one.  The recent addition of Floyd who as a starter averaged about 12 wins a season (Happ's career high) from 2008-2012.  Had some injuries, but put up solid numbers in small doses in the MLB the last 2 years.  Worked out of the BP last year for the first time and looked good.  The Jays signed him to a major league contract, so he will work out of the pen if not the rotation.  The Gavin Floyd of old easily slides into the #4 slot, and maybe higher.  Does he still have it?  We'll see.

8.  Drew Hutchison
Opening day starter a year ago.  13-5 last year, but had the most ridiculous run support ever.  Close to 8 runs a game.  He was awful a lot of the time, but whenever he made it through 5 innings he seemed to get the win.  If Dickey had that kind of support, he could have won 20.  Hutch still has options, so will likely start in AAA.  Injuries, an incredible spring, and a Sanchez change of heart are his only hope right now.

9.  Roberto Hernandez
Minor League deal, so probably just a depth guy if he clears waivers after the spring.

10.  Scott Copeland
He has no real shot, but I wanted to do 10 because it's a round number.  Had a great year in Buffalo last year.  Looked good in at least 1 of his 5 outings with the Jays.  Not gonna happen.

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