Sounds like we’ll get the rare treat of back-to-back big league debuts for a couple of impressive young pitchers– one, albeit, far more heralded than the other– at the Rogers Centre this week, as it appears that Kevin Gausman’s debut tonight for the Orioles will be followed tomorrow by Sean Nolin’s first taste of the big leagues for the Jays.

As early as last night word was getting out that Nolin had been scratched from his start today for New Hampshire. In fact, Nolin himself admitted he’d been bumped to Friday:

Friday was to be Marcus Stroman’s next start for the Fisher Cats, but he was pushed back as well.

“New Hampshire now listing Nolin for Friday and Stroman Saturday meaning #bluejays can delay making Fri. start decision until later,” tweeted Richard Griffin this morning. He added, however, that there’s a decent reason to think Nolin may be getting the call– that is, beyond the fact that nominal fifth starter Stephen Chadwick Jenkins hasn’t pitched since May 12th:

Eventually, though there has still been no official word from the club, because a roster spot would need to be created to add Nolin, Shi Davidi went ahead and tweeted that the left-handers big league debut on Friday is “expected,” and followed it up with a piece on Nolin for Sportsnet.

So… who is Sean Nolin?

Back in December, after Baseball Prospectus released their Jays top ten for 2013, I passed this along:

Nolin is just ten starts behind where Henderson Alvarez was when he first got the call to the Majors– at 88 innings deep into his New Hampshire career, a whopping number compared to Hutchison’s 31.2 over six starts at the level– so it’s not entirely crazy to believe that he could be the club’s real sixth starter. Parks sees him as close, suggesting that “Nolin looks to be on the fast-track, and if he performs well at the Double-A level, he could reach the majors at some point during the season. Some sources think his arsenal is on the way up, especially if the slider develops into a consistent plus offering.”

We’re told that his stuff “doesn’t need major grade jumps” to compete at the highest level, and while he lacks a “high-end out pitch,” he spent 2012 “maturing with each start at the High-A level,” and has the look of a number three starter– and a close one at that.

Nolin got a late start on the Fisher Cats season due to injury, but he’s certainly looked good enough for Double-A, striking out 16 and walking five in 15.1 innings over three starts, allowing just two earned runs. Scarily, though, he’d have had even less Double-A experience than Hutchison, if he really is on his way up.

Marc Hulet of FanGraphs wrote about having watch Nolin’s May 12th start earlier this week, and by his eyes, the pitcher still seemed to be a bit rusty from his injury layoff.

“His full windup lacked fluidity in the first inning but got better as the game went on,” he wrote. “Early on, the left-handed pitcher struggled with his fastball command and the opposing hitters were having some really good hacks on his offerings. He was also not throwing his curveball for strikes on a consistent basis. The good news is that those issues should be correctable.”

He adds that, as the mechanical issues improved over the course of the game, so did the command issues. Another negative, though, was the fact that “Nolin doesn’t do himself any favors with his delivery because he ends his follow-through in a very poor fielding position and I watched two catchable bouncers get past him.” And he concluded by explaining that he’d “have to rate Nolin as a future No. 4 starter. He doesn’t look ready for the majors but another 10-15 minor league starts could make a world of difference.”

So… yeah. Granted, that’s just one start, he’s had another one since then to refine the mechanics, and other evaluatorrs have been slightly higher on Nolin than all that, but it’s a bit grim. I guess when your other option is Chad Jenkins, though, on eleven days rest, in an intra-division game that you really want to give yourself the best chance in, maybe it’s not so bad. But still, blowing an option on a thoroughly untested Nolin at this stage? Yikes. Should be interesting, at least. 2013, you guys!


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Comments (49)

  1. Crossbody, late external rotation, high shoulder. Just another Blue Jays pitching prospect. Hopefully it takes awhile for him to get injured so we can see his ceiling.

  2. Hulet would ““have to rate Nolin as a future No. 4 starter.”

    I’d take that.

  3. I like this call, lefties are giving the O’s trouble and the kid seems to throw strikes.
    If he can keep his emotions in check he could give the boys a chance to win.

    Personally I think Jenkins has been a little lucky and it’s a matter of time before he gets exposed. Similar to Ortiz.

    Give the kids a shot, see what they can do.

  4. I had no idea nolin had such few starts in AA. I think this is a bad idea. But who do you start then? I dont know why everyone thinks jenkins is a shitbag. He hasnt deserved that label yet based on his mlb experience. Ramon ortiz definitely is, yet they keep starting him over jenkins. So I would probably DFA ortiz and start jenkins with 1 of stroman or nolin. Whoever is more mlb ready.

    • + 1

    • Jenkins era in AA last year was 4.96 with a whip over 1.5.

      If he can’t dominate AA, I’m sure it’s a matter of time for they figure him out in MLB

      • Yeah, thats true. However, mlb players havent seen him much at all and he can win some games just by virtue of being unknown. Ortiz on the other hand has been around a looooonnnnng time and players know what he throws and his numbers dictate shitbag. In the short term, its all about winning games until jj and happ get back. So I think starting unknown pitchers for the time being isnt a bad strategy.

        • If you believe that then Nolin makes sense as well.

        • They don’t know much about my pitching prowess, but I’m pretty I would not fair too well. Jenkins is an OK depth option, but he ranks right down there with Ortiz in terms of shit ballers. Now, I generally do agree that it makes more sense to go with Jenkins over Ortiz, but it has nothing to do with people knowing more about Ortiz then they do Jenkins – I just think Jenkins is slightly better pitcher.

  5. Call up Nolin and Stroman and piggyback them. We’re hitting our best hitter second might as well go all in on new age ideas.

  6. the 2013 jays are 2- 0 when gose gets into the game

  7. Dirk Hayhurst weeps.

    • I’m with the Garfoose on this one…for anybody that is actually a Leafs fan, remember Allan Bester?

  8. Some think that Hutchinson’s injury was, in part, due to being rushed to the majors.

    Not sure what to make of that, but we do know that he had to refine his delivery at the major league level. Learning to use his legs more was a major part of that.

    Did it contribute to his injury? I dunno. Maybe the same would have happened if he had have had another dozen minor league starts. We’ll never know.

    But I’d prefer to err on the side of caution. At the time, I said I did not want to see Hutchinson until August or even Sept. Feel the same way about Nolan. And rushing Ricky Romero back was a major error.

    Some questionable decisions being made.

    That said, will be in the big city for Fri-Sat-Sun games.
    Sitting at 1-2 on the season and looking to get back to .500 (or better) this weekend.

    What are the chances of a rainout in the Dome tonight?
    Yeah, that’s what I thought.
    Would have been nice to see Gausman.
    Will hope for the best with Nolin.

    • Being “rushed” to the majors doesn’t put more stress on an elbow or a ligament.
      I think your theory is bullshit.
      I’d love if you could provide a link to the “some people who believe that Hutch being pushed to the bigs caused his injury”.

      Can it cause a kid to be overwhelmed/nervous/emotional and throw fat pitches and hanging curves? Yes it can. It can hurt a kids confidence too. But gravity, friction and other forces don’t start to pull and wear more on a player because he’s in a different league.

      If he suddenly changed his mechanics and was throwing in a way to cause injury then they have a plethora of coaches who watch and study that too.

      Hutch wasn’t hurt because he pitched for the Jays instead of Dunedin or New Hamshire.

      • In fairness, and without a link, I believe that I read the same thing and I believe it was on DJF. Could be wrong. Maybe it was a link off of DJF.

      • I remember making a mental note at the time that Hutchinson must have modified his windup / mechanics; he was throwing 94-95 mph instead of 91-92 just before he was injured.

        • I said the same thing and actually tweeted something to Stoeten about it at the time, and he “respectfully” disagreed with me.

          The couple of weeks leading up to Hutch’s injury last year he was consistently throwing harder than he had for most of his pro career. Whether there are other factors in play is likely, but I sort of interpreted that as a guy who felt like he had to throw harder to stick in the big leagues. Regardless if someone was telling him that, or he was telling himself that, or maybe it was even on a completely subconscious level.

          Im also not saying this caused the injury, just agreeing with a few others here. When i saw him go down that day, it was the first thought I had.

      • You only have so many bullets .. Might as well have them used up in the majors vs the minors!

  9. Who the fuck is this guy??

  10. I think I’d just have Jenkins start given the fact that we have to clear a spot for this guy, and he wont be up permanently.

    unless we can move someone to the 60 day, or something

  11. So it’s come to this: we put Joffrey Lupul in a Jay’s jersey.

  12. History doesn’t favour unproven starters in the big leagues. In fact they usually get torched but I think the alternatives are shit. A 40 year old with a career ERA of 5 or a busted prospect in Jenkins.

    Give Nolin and Stroman a shot, they’ve both been throwing darts the last two years in the minors.

    Throwing out puss arms when you’re 10 games back isn’t the answer, you may as well try to catch lightning in a bottle with the kids.

  13. Jenkins was great in Boston. Maybe it was just an aberration, but I think he earned himself another start there.

    • agreed…calling Nolin up is premature and is just not good for a variety of reasons. AA seems to be panicking a little with this, and the Romero call-up.

  14. Anyone else feel like it’s been a long time since a blue jay minor leaguer came onto the scene and made an impact? I feel like we’re due a little luck here.

  15. Is anyone else beginning to get a little bit concerned with the Jays player development strategy? I will withhold judgement on this specific case until we see Nolin a couple times to truly see if he is ready, but there does seem to be a trend emerging where the Jays seem to be rushing players to the bigs before they have had a wealth of experience in the minors, and before a lot of pundits would have said that they were ready. An argument could be made that pretty much every real prospect they have brought up in the past few years not named Arencibia or Lawrie was brought up before they were ready to stick, and neither of those guys is exactly lighting the world on fire right now either. I am somewhat concerned that the Jays have been sacrificing long term development for short term gain. For instance, how many above average (or even just average) regular players (starting pitchers or position players) have the Blue Jays actually developed in house (was drafted by OR spent longer then a year in the Jays farm system) in the last 10 years? Sure we have had guys who had productive years (Romero, Lind, Hill) but we really haven’t seen a consistent contributor come out of the system since….Halladay?! Am I missing someone?

    • Russ Adams?

    • Read the piece over at Grantland on Royals prospects. I think they’re a little melodramatic in it, but the point is attrition is universal.

    • The Jays aren’t doing themselves any favours on the attrition front when they’re calling up AA guys when they haven’t even spent a full season in AA.

  16. I don’t see the harm in giving these kids a couple spot starts while waiting for the others to get healthy, besides “burning options”, fuck I mean it’s got to be good experience, right?

  17. I dont think this is the right thing to do.

    But I can’t think of anything better. Soooooo….. whatever. GL kid

  18. No Rumple Stilson?

  19. Book it. Nolin should be fine against them O’s however

  20. It seems a little weird given that Jenkins pitched a decent 5 last time out and the O’s have seen him even less than the Red Sox have…the splits maaaybe justify the one-off but only if you really think Nolin is exactly where Jenkins is.

    The good news out of all this is that we are now budgeting for an imminent Johnson return rather than trying to uncover a long-term solution a la Hutchison/Alvarez.

    If it was Ortiz’s start I’d say they’re trying to make up their mind on DFAing him but as it is they’ll probably leave Jenkins as a long man tonight and send him out tomorrow.

  21. I wonder what Brian Tallet’s up to?

    • Since he’s a former Jay, he’s probably ripping it up elsewhere because we all know that happens every single time the organization parts ways with a player. Travis Snider got an RBI today, by the way! AN RBI! Fire AA! Yes, I am being sarcastic.

  22. So what happens when jj is healthy

  23. Darn, dont think ill be able to watch the game tomorrow live….will tape it

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