Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

On Sunday against the Twins, it’s very possible that the Jays will send their thirteenth starter of the 2013 season to the hill. There’s Todd Redmond, who John Gibbons has already indicated is lightly penciled in; Juan Perez could get the call as the front end of a Charley Wholestaff outing; and another possibility is Marcus Stroman, who pitched well for the sixth straight time at New Hampshire on Tuesday.

There are other options, none particularly enthralling– hello, Ricky Romero!– but it seems like there’s at least a decent chance the club will hit on lucky number thirteen within the week, and there’s more than a good chance that, more than anything else this season, that’s been the key to all the misery and unmet expectations the Jays and their fans have suffered this year. So… because I’m, apparently, feeling a bit masochistic, let’s have a look at everyone the club has run out there so far this year, and for shits and giggles, let’s rank them!

1. R.A. Dickey

Dickey has allowed six or more earned runs in six of his eighteen starts this year. His 0.7 fWAR is a shade less, in twenty more innings, than Joe Blanton and Jeff Locke. At Baseball Reference, his 0.9 WAR puts him in the same ballpark as Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard. He has been the Jays best pitcher this season, mostly because he’s taken the ball consistently every fifth day, has logged more innings than Mark Buehrle (and is a half win better by rWAR, and better by RA9, though a shade behind him in fWAR, FIP and xFIP), and… um… no, that’s pretty much it. The good outings seem to be showing up more reliably than the bad of late, at least, right? Seriously, though, think about it: this list is all downhill from the guy who has provided less value by those metrics than Joe fucking Blanton.

2. Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle has, after a slow start, looked pretty much like you’d expect 2013 Mark Buehrle to look. Unfortunately, instead of being the fourth- or fifth-best pitcher in the Jays’ rotation, he’s been the second-best, and the only one besides Dickey to be remotely reliable. Reliably mediocre, yes, but shit, at least his fielding independent numbers, which he normally outpitches, are better than his ERA, so what if they’re, y’know, worse than all but one season in his career? He’s come back to earth in his last couple of starts, after a very nice stretch starting in mid-to-late May, but at least he’s racking up innings.

3. Esmil Rogers

It doesn’t make a lick of goddamn sense, but here it is: Esmil Rogers has been the third-best Jays starting pitcher so far this season, and with a 2.18 ERA (albeit with worse peripherals), and a rotation-leading 1.2 rWAR, there’s not much of a case for anyone else. Crazier still: were it not for a lack of opportunity– Rogers has logged just 33 innings as a starter– he’d probably be higher. Which… actually, that isn’t so crazy when you think of how fantastic he’s been. It’s just… y’know… fucking crazy.

4. Josh Johnson

Ask anybody and they’ll tell you that Josh Johnson has been a disappointment for the Jays. That’s because it’s true, in terms of results. He’s mostly been hurt and ineffective, but with nine starts through half a season, he’s somehow logged the fourth-most innings on the staff. He’s also got the best K/9 among starters, some surprisingly good fielding independent peripherals– 3.82 FIP, 3.64 xFIP– and a rWAR better than Brandon Morrow’s, so… sure, why not?

5. J.A. Happ

Happ had such a good spring, and succumbed to such a freak injury that it’s a little bit too easy to forget that he wasn’t anything particularly special while he was regularly taking his turn earlier in the season. He walked seven batters and didn’t get through the fourth inning in the start prior to his injury in Tampa. In the fateful game itself he gave up four earned runs through less than two innings, though three of those were due to the Desmond Jennings “triple” that ricocheted off his head. Heading into the start his ERA was at 3.98, so… that’s OK. And he’s produced as much fWAR as Rogers, in exactly as many innings (33)– though, by rWAR, he’s been exactly replacement level.

6. Brandon Morrow

It’s a sorry place the Jays’ game-two starter and the pitcher with the twelfth-best ERA in the Majors last year (minimum 120 IP) holds on this list, but nothing has gone right for Brandon Morrow this season, save for a May 5th gem against Seattle and a couple of decent no-decisions in early April. He’s been worth a half win below replacement per Baseball Reference, and below replacement by FanGraphs too– though, for what it’s worth, his xFIP looks halfway reasonable, thanks to its adjusting for a HR/FB ratio that, at 15.6%, is easily a career high. That, plus everything else we’ve ever known about Morrow, says he’ll be better, but to do so he’s got to get on the damn field, and reports Tuesday suggest that’s not going to happen until August. Ugh.

7. Chad Jenkins

He seemed to ride a wave of luck to three half-decent starts, and he managed just six strikeouts over 15 innings, but with a neat 3.60 ERA, the third-best FIP among the club’s starters, and half as much value by rWAR as Buehrle in a little over a tenth of the innings pitched, all while giving up hits on balls in play at an above average rate, in his brief turn in the rotation, Jenkins actually stacks up pretty nicely against the dreadful performance of his rotation peers. You could make the argument to put him above Morrow and Happ, even, though I think his fifteen innings are just a bit too low to honestly say that, bad and hurt as those two have been.

8. Chien-Ming Wang

Yes, despite getting second-inning-shitcanned for two straight starts and getting himself D’d FA, Wang gets the edge over Ramon Ortiz in my book because of the innings he’s logged (24 as a starter, versus 16.1 for Ortiz), and the fact that the two starts before he was figured out were absolutely sparkling, giving up just one earned run over 13.1 innings. Even with the groundball tendencies and, y’know, the shitcanning, he still has better numbers by FIP and xFIP than Ortiz, too. Though… that’s largely due to a 23.5% HR/FB rate, which may not be so much luck-related as it is related to the fact that he’s kinda brutal.

9. Ramon Ortiz

Ortiz lands above a few Jays starters thanks to his… um… “ability” to smoke-and-mirrors his way through three-plus not-godawful starts, despite a K/9 rate of 1.65 and a BB/9 of 4.41. He was a great story for a little while, and like Wang, pitched in with a couple of surprisingly good starts, but… yeah… not good. You could make the case to put him ahead of Wang, I think, but… why would you want to bother?

10. Ricky Romero

Yes, two Jays starters this season have been worse than Ricky Romero, who pitched an OK-ish four innings in a loss to Seattle before failing to get out of the first inning in a disasterpiece against Tampa in his next rotation turn, then subsequently getting outrighted off the roster, clearing waivers, and landing in Buffalo. Ugh.

11. Aaron Laffey

Romero edges out Laffey for the fact that he actually managed to get out of the third inning in one of his two starts. Laffey went just two-and-two-thirds in his lone start of the season for the Jays, hitting the Yankee Stadium showers after a four-walk inning that Brad Lincoln managed to clean up, keeping Laffey at a respectable-ish two earned runs through 2.2. Fifty-five pitches thrown, twenty-three strikes.

12. Sean Nolin

Poor Sean Nolin. Lauded as something of a sleeper prospect at the start of the year– and, realistically, still considered as one– he was pressed into action too soon, following just 30.2 innings above High-A. In his May 24th start against the Orioles, Nolin got somewhat unlucky in the first inning, with a number of balls sneaking through the infield before J.J. Hardy took him deep to put Baltimore on the board, but in his second inning he came completely undone. Double. Walk. Single. Double. All of them hard hit, the last one with Ramon Ortiz already warming in the pen. His big league debut lasted 35 pitches and left him with a 40.50 ERA.

Comments (97)

  1. this post is just depressing

  2. PLAYOFFS!!!!111!!

    • It’s good to remember that even though everything in the post is true, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for this team to still make the playoffs.

    • Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Playoffs?! You kiddin’ me? I jusyt hope we can win another game. But don’t talk about playoffs.

  3. Playoffs!

  4. Off topic: Luis Jimenez wasn’t in the lineup for Buffalo last night. Any rumours floating around that he could be coming up T-dot to fill in for some of the wounded? They could use his bat.

    • If anyone it would be Mauro Gomez who is actually on the 40 man roster and would be the 1B/DH type needed

  5. I really would like to understand what has happened to Josh Johnson. He looks healthy, he has decent velocity. But just seems to have forgotten how to pitch. I’m going to blame JP Arencibia…

  6. 0 of the 4 or 5 pitchers the Jays have in the rotation right now were starting for the Jays 12 months ago. And yet after the disaster that was 2012 how could it be worse?

  7. coming soon to this list… todd redmond? fuck

  8. Gee, thanks for that.

  9. Time for Ricky!

  10. Wow, where is my razor blade?

    Rogers is the only one whose been a suprise and actually good. I guess Happ too before the injury.

    I seems like Dickey is turning the corner, and Buehrle is decent.

    Really think they need to get a legitimate #2 to compete next year, and not Josh Fucking Johnson.

    I hope Redmond doesn’t get the start, give Webber or Stroman a shot.

    • Agreed. Would prefer not to see Redmond. If the Bullpen isn’t too overworked, why not make it a BP game? There’s got to be some advantage to having 9 relievers.

    • it’s all about roster management I’d think. Weber is on the 40 man, Stroman is not. Nolin is on there now too – he’s been OK since the disater start in T.O.

      Since they DFA’d Wang, I assume this opens the spot for Drabek to be added to the 40 man and then optioned to continue rehab…? I read somewhere recently that this has to happen sooner than later….then you eventually need room for Perez, Happ, Hutchinson (all on the 60 day DL and off the 40 man) – sacrifices include Redmond, Storey, Weber?

  11. JP, Lawrie, Johnson, Rajai and 3 prospects for King Felix??????

  12. Why is it that we cannot even find average starters now. Even a crappy pitcher from before like Woody Williams would blow all of these guys away.

    • Yeah, it’s really infuriating. I wasn’t really buying all the best starting rotation in team history stuff to start the year but I was pretty fucking sure we had a rotation that was capable of doing its part to get to the postseason at least.

  13. I’d rather see Stroman or Nolin on Sunday then Redmond.
    Nolin’s better then he showed in that one outing. Stroman could be lighting in a bottle.
    But if you throw Redmond then you have a good idea of what you’ll get, a 10 year mediocre minor leaguer who will need a fuck of a lot a luck to get the “W”

    Give me the rookie “X” factor.

    • I want that x factor too if only for the entertainment value.

    • I’d give it to Stroman. When the Jays drafted him and pre-suspension there was all this talk about how he was the most MLB-ready pitcher in the draft, coming out of college, that he’d be the very first 2012 draftee to make it as a September call-up…why the hell not give him a go.

  14. We need Mauro “Goose” Gozzo

  15. #FreeMarcusStroman

  16. My vote is for Charley Wholestaff to be the fifth “starter” if the Jays can’t find someone who isn’t being thrown out there only due to necessity. I don’t see why the bullpen can’t be responsible for the fifth-starter slot every time out, especially with a 13-man staff. If you only have four starters, that means you’ve got nine relievers. Using that strategy should not really work the pen to its breaking point, especially if it is still thriving while our fifth starter is giving us 1.2 inning specials on a regular basis. They also managed when Rogers was only going four innings per start.

    Our lineup yesterday was like an expansion team that did a shit job in the expansion draft, at least after the four slot, yet they somehow managed to hit around in the first inning. And the fucking result was that we were trailing a half inning later after Wang gave up the easiest to predict home run in baseball history. It’s fucking ridiculous.

    If AA is serious about still going for a playoff spot this year, something has to be done NOW. Playoff teams do not lose ugly with anywhere near the frequency as the Jays have been this year. This strategy of using players recently released by other teams is not going to cut it.

    I’m not sure if you ranked the pitchers solely or mainly based on advanced metrics, but I personally would but Rogers at #1 if I was doing the ranking, despite the limited number of starts. He’s the starter I feel most confident having out there right now. Obviously that could change with a couple of Wang-esque starts, but Dickey has just been so inconsistent. I never thought I’d say this, but I even feel more confident with Buehrle out there than Dickey at this point.

    I feel like all the momentum of the win streak is now completely gone. The Tigers have been playing shit lately and should be ripe for the picking. I really hope we take these next two.

  17. Casper Wells pitched in emergency relief for the Sox this week, and his fastball averaged over 91 mph. We’d kill for that velocity!

  18. Re: “There’s more than a good chance that, more than anything else this season, that’s been the key to all the misery and unmet expectations the Jays and their fans have suffered this year.”

    I agree the pitching has been disappointing, but the offense deserves a share of credit for the overall misery.

    Look at the Orioles – they’ve given up more runs than the Jays, and their bullpen is not dominating like last year, but they are managing to outscore their weak pitching.

    With the Jays it seems to me a combination of the problems with starters but also missing runs in key spots. Look at their record when leading after 7 in conjunction with the record in one run games. The offense should get a share of the blame too. And it’s probably not the whole offense, scoring the 7th most runs in the AL (but more only than the smoke and mirror Yankees in the East), as much as it is a few black holes who seem just too easy to pitch to with a runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs and with RISP, etc.

    It’s not a surprise that a team featuring Bautista and Encarnacion would put up a lot of runs. But a catcher with 15 bombs who can’t bring in a runner from 3rd with less than 2 outs probably does more to help in the runs scored column than the win column.

    • There is no correlation between runs scored and wins.

      • Explain

        • I’m guessing what he means is that run differential is what is important – not just runs scored.

          When the Braves had Maddu-Smoltz-Glavine-Avery, they did not have to have the most potent offence to be a great team.

          • @ MarkEichhorn’sPiano well yes the differential is important. But there’s still a correlation for either runs scored or runs allowed.
            he said “NO” correlation.

            • @IMW Not saying you’re wrong, but I don’t see how that equation supports your argument. Runs scored and runs allowed are both components of that formula – it doesn’t look to me that runs scored, in an of itself, can be used to predict a team’s success. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding.

            • @IMM Just wanted to add – I just realized that I am not even arguing the same point as you. As to whether there is a correlation between runs and wins, that does appear to the be the case. But knowing there is a correlation is pretty useless in and of itself.

      • The problem with making statements like that is that we all know how to use google.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/expected-wins-and-losses/

        • I think you’re agreeing with me here, not with Bob. Runs scored are part of run differential.

          But even more simply, I was just saying that the difference between winning and losing a one run game could be -2 RA or +2 RS or 1 of each. I’m just looking through the box scores and the offense has been pretty bad in a lot of the 1 run losses.

      • I’d wager that there is a definite and direct correlation between runs scored and wins.

        • The Pirates have scored fewer runs than the Chicago Cubs.

          Run differential is where it’s at.

          • Yes, the correlation is with the differential. If you put it like scoring more than you allow, it perhaps emphasizes pitching or you could say allowing fewer than you score, which may help you picture regularly winning 8-6 rather than the stereotypical 4-3.

            There’s nothing to debate there. And sure, if you wanted to take one of RA or RS in isolation, I’d bet that historically teams that allow relatively few runs win more games than teams that score relatively a lot. But that wasn’t my point, just saying that the offense has done its share of letting down this year. The Jays haven’t lost a game when leading after 7, yet have a 9-14 record in one run games.

            The scores in those 14 games they lost:
            1-2
            2-3 x3
            3-4 x5
            4-5 x2
            5-6
            6-7 x2

            Last night was a perfect embodiment. The starter sucked. The offense scored 6 in 2 innings. But then could potentially win the game with a run but only managed 2 baserunners the next 7 innings.

            Most of these 1-run losses are lower scoring and could have swung the other way with better execution on offense.

            • There’s a correlation between runs scored and winning on an individual game basis, of course. You’re always more likely to win if you score more runs. But over the course of the season, scoring more runs doesn’t correlate to success. An example: your Toronto Blue Jays.

          • Game. Set. Match.

          • @Brainojack: just saw that. Maybe I’m wrong. What about doing it for all teams, not just the Yankees?

            • It was just the easiest to grab all data from one team on BR. If i can grab all team data on one page I’ll do it as well

            • The Jays aren’t really scoring “more” runs though. They are mid-pack in the AL in RS and wins. If they were scoring more runs, they’d be at least a few wins better.

              • Maybe I’m caught up in semantics here. Last season, the Jays scored more runs than Oakland and Baltimore. Both those teams had 20 more wins.

                • I think you are getting caught up a little. Baltimore was an anomaly last year as they outperformed what their run differential would predict. They scored 4 more runs than they allowed, but they were able to compile such a good record in large part because they had that ridiculous record in 1 run games. I think you’d expect to win these about half the time, and winning them all the time skews your Pythag record.

                  Oakland is better example. The Jays outscored them, but the A’s prevented runs very well and had a run differential of a 99 compared to Toronto’s -68. If you think the A’s had a kind of anemic offense, you could say they outpitched their lack of runs.

                  It’s not about runs scored but the relationship between scoring runs and allowing runs. If you score more runs than the other team, you win. If you score a lot more than you allow over a season, you’ll have a good season.

                  • “It’s not about runs scored but the relationship between scoring runs and allowing runs.”
                    That’s run differential, no? I thought the argument was for runs scored only.

                    By the way, wins vs. runs scored / game for the Giants:
                    http://i.imgur.com/0H8XONG.png

                    Not entirely impressed by the predictive power there.

                    • I don’t think anyone ever said it was just about runs.

                    • OK, yes, I see there was a comment posited a correlation between runs scored and wins. Perhaps there is, I’m not sure. I mean, there is a correlation insofar as you have to score at least one run to win, but I’m not sure there’s a predictive correlation.

                      I think my comment wound up going somewhere I didn’t think was debatable, but my simple point was that if the Jays’ offense had scored more runs to this point, their record would be better.

                    • @G Man

                      I absolutely agree. My bone to pick was regarding the notion that runs scored — independent of runs allowed — was directly correlated to wins. Which doesn’t make sense to me, since you can score 1 run and win, and also score 9 runs and lose.

                      I suspect that if you were to look at runs scored per game vs. wins for all teams, there would be, at best, a very weak correlation.

                    • You probably can outscore pitching problems. Heck, I’m pretty much arguing the Jays could have done a better job of that so far this year. But it’s true acknowledging even that (which is harder to do than to outpitch an anemic offense) is different than saying there is a direct and predictive correlation between RS and wins.

                • A correlation does not imply that something explains 100% of the other… so scoring runs is not a 100% predictor of your number of wins… but it does correlate to some degree… This is first year Stats stuff.

                  • Sorry, that last post ventured into dickish territory.
                    I don’t think anyone was trying to argue a 100% correlation between wins and runs scored. Merely a recognition that saying that there is “no correlation” is downright silly.
                    If I was interpreted to mean that i thought scoring runs was the only thing that mattered, then that’s my bad for not explaining myself I guess.

                    • Let’s call a truce on this whole thing. I didn’t mean for it to come to this. I was trying to make a different point. Sometimes things devolve because it can be hard to articulate, especially concepts that I’m not used to trying to write about, on line.

                      My suggestion is that we move on to dreaming about Sanchez for Lee. That’s a proposition with merit, even if it’s complete fantasy.

                    • The keeper league fantasy player in me says “fuck that”!
                      but the realist in me says “go forth and trade!!!”
                      …. the even more realist in me says it’ll never happen.

  19. Random scenario that will probably never happen, but just for the hell of it because I have time to think about shit today…

    You’re AA. Sitting in your office right now, you get a call from Ruben Amaro. The Phillies offer you Cliff Lee. Cliff is willing to wave his no-trade and come to the Blue Jays if a deal can get done, and you’ll have him for two-plus years. However, the Phillies want Aaron Sanchez. It’s Sanchez for Lee, straight up, or the deal’s off the table. Do you make the deal?

  20. A thing about which much hasn’t been said, but seems reasonable: since Cecil has been so good, any chance we move his arm back to starting?

    Pros: with an 8 man pen we can lose an arm; he might be great now that some of his velocity is back.

    Cons: lose a great relief arm. However, if he doesn`t do well, or if and when Happ/Morrow/Drabek/Hutchinson get healthy, you can always move him back down.

    Seems like not a lot of risk, and he HAS to be better than Wang was.

    • Hell NO. Like Janssen I believe he will prove to be a MUCH better reliever than starter

      • The issue isn’t really whether he’s a better reliever than starter, with which I agree, it’s whether he is a better starter than someone like Wang, and if the value temporarily lost in the bullpen is less than the value gained by having him pitch instead of Wang.

        • The added value in using him as a starter is that, even if he is a little less effective as a starter, he’s on the mound for way more innings. Two-hundred innings of pretty good is worth more than 75 innings of spectacular. Only nine relievers in history have ever accumulated over 20 WAR in their careers. Mark Buerhle is sitting at almost 60 at this point.

    • His starting days are over. Period.

    • Cecil’s gone on the record saying he doesn’t want to start any more. No sense in even thinking about it.

      • Brett Lawrie, after hitting a sac fly, didn’t want Adam Lind to stay on third on the May 26th game in which Kawasaki ultimately drove in the winning run and gave his now infamous interview. Does that mean it was the right thing to do and it was best for the team?

        Not saying it has to happen, especially if we can find a better starter to call up, but there has to be better arguments than he doesn’t want to.

        • How about Oliver? a) He used to be a starter, b) He has a rubber arm, c) He doesn’t throw that hard anyway so there can’t be much strain, d) He’s old and down the chain anyway so who gives a shit if we break him.

          Let’s make Janssen and Delabar and Loup and Perez start too. Hell, maybe even Wagner.

  21. I really like the idea of Stroman starting at home against a poor offensive team with a Sunday lineup with the benefit of The Dickey Effect. If there was ever a time to ease someone into the majors outside of September, this might be it.

  22. I don’t think it’s just the pitching and I don’t think it’s just the offence. It’s a nasty situation where, unfortunately, you can point to individual players and say ‘he lost us the game’. yesterday it was Wang but a couple of nights ago it was JPA. That having been said, our starters have not been good but at least Dickey and Buehrle are beginning to come around and Rogers has been a lovely surprise. That is 3/5 of a rotation with Drabek and Hutchinson due back at some point. I wouldn’t bet the farm for Cliff Lee. I’d rather a cheaper option. And Cliff Lee is coming from the NL. We’ve already seen what can happen when NL pitchers fetch up permanently in the AL East. It’s a steep learning curve which comes at the expense of a number of lost games.

    However I do want to see a replacement for JPA and I would like to see that yesterday. He’s not bad but not wonderful defensively and he is a waste of space in the batter’s box. His coaches are so fed up with him they are talking publicly about his problems. Thole is not a good replacement as the #1 catcher. That’s where we need improvement.

    • Not that I disagree with you entirely, but Wang didn’t solely cost the Jays the game yesterday. He gave up 6 runs but the game was tied after he was gone. It was a new game after 2 innings. The bullpen did a great job but the offense could only muster 2 baserunners after the 2nd.

      • You’re right that the offence wasn’t stellar. But if Wang had held the line even a little bit better, if say, 4 runs had scored rather than 6, we would have won. 6 runs in 1 inning killed us in my opinion. Even if we did tie it up. That had to take the momentum away for the Jays.

  23. Good discussion goin on here today, been lurking while I take ‘dumps’ at work

  24. Hahaha, I had almost forgotten Ramon Ortiz was a thing.

    And thus ends the era of Staff Ace Aaron Laffey.

  25. Cet article est vraiment plein de vérité

  26. Une fois de plus un article clairement séduisant

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