So, with last night’s D’ing FA of Chien-Ming Wang (who, his agent tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, will accept an assignment to Buffalo, FYI), the Jays are potentially looking at lucky number thirteen when it comes to members of their 2013 starting rotation when Sunday rolls around. Today we’ve already taken a look at how the first twelve starters have fared (hint: not fucking well), and I suppose that would make it fitting if we also took a look at the guys who may be tabbed to make their first start of the season for the Jays (i.e. I won’t include guys who have already made starts this year, not that Ricky Romero ought to get consideration here anyway).
And… shit, I might as well rank them by my personal preference, too!
Here are the candidates…
Yeah, so I’m probably jumping the gun on this one– I can’t exactly argue that, with other viable candidates around, there’s really a need to bring up Stroman and expose him to the big leagues as a starter just yet, but it sure would be fun, wouldn’t it? Or, at least, the anticipation would be fun. The start itself could devolve into a Sean Nolin-like disasterpiece, but I think Stroman stands a better chance– and shit, he’s got at least twelve more innings of experience above A-ball than Nolin did, so that’s got to count for something, right?
Also: he’s kind of been nailing it lately, with 50 strikeouts in 42.2 innings, with only twelve walks and 39 hits. Since his lone blow-up start of the season on May 29th, he’s pitched to a 1.93 ERA and just a .544 OPS against. Granted, this is all for Double-A New Hampshire, but since the day he was drafted people were saying that his is an arm that could pitch in the Majors already. That talk was, of course, about him reaching the big leagues as a reliever, but… I don’t know… getting a look at what he could do having to turn a lineup over multiple times– or what he’s going to need to work on if he is unable– can’t be the worst thing in the world, can it?
And, forgive me for besmirching the fine records of the scrubs below him on my list, but I think he probably has the best shot to actually maintain some kind of level of success, too. Though… his 38.5% ground ball rate is maybe a little bit scary. So, it’s probably crazy. But let’s not forget that Hutchison and Henderson Alvarez hit the ground running, more or less, in a way that Nolin certainly did not. I mean… I dunno… why the hell not?
The newfound success of Juan Perez, at age 34, would be kinda damn perplexing if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re only talking about 17.2 innings, and a guy who has walked batters at half the clip as a Blue Jay as he did earlier in the season as a Buffalo Bison. In fact, his current BB/9 of 2.5 is lower than any stint at any level in any season in his entire career– all nineteen of his various stops. So… do we really think he’s going to maintain anything close to the level of success we’re seeing at the moment? Um… how about if I point out that in his twelve big league innings over the previous two years, with Milwaukee and Philadelphia, he allowed six earned runs and walked thirteen?
But I don’t fucking know. Some guys take a long time to develop their command, and sometimes new sets of eyes from a new organization can help unlock something in a guy. Plus, the strikeouts have always been there– he K’d 18 over those twelve innings in the previous two seasons– and this year he really has been fantastic. He’s also been able to go multiple innings on several occasions, hitting a season-high of 41 pitches after taking over for Chien-Ming Wang on Tuesday night. That means he’ll be easily rested up to go for as long as possible on Sunday. He’d still need to rely on the bullpen to get him through the outing, but he’s earned a shot, and maybe this is the right time to take the first step towards getting him stretched out and really seeing just how much lightning in a bottle they’ve caught here.
I don’t know why my impression was that Thad Weber wasn’t particularly good during his limited action for the Jays this year, but the numbers don’t bear it out. Part of it is probably due to the residual anger I feel over his giving up the game-winning run in the tenth inning of a May 28th contest against the Braves, when– I believe– it turned out Casey Janssen was unavailable to pitch. In four innings he allowed four hits, one walk, and one earned run on the Brian McCann home run seen in the picture above. Not particularly great, but not awful.
Weber was optioned back to Buffalo following the loss to Atlanta, came back and pitched an inning against Texas on June 9th, and he’s kinda been on a nice little roll at Buffalo. Since stepping into the starting rotation for the Bisons on June 15th, he’s thrown 27.1 innings over four starts, getting through the seventh inning in all but one, and he’s allowed just four earned runs on 17 hits and six walks, with 22 strikeouts and an OPS-against of .425. Yes, it’s Buffalo, but he’s clearly been the best starter down there of late, and the fact that he has options remaining doesn’t hurt his case either. I can’t say I’d be terribly hopeful of what he can do, but… this is a team that has run out Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Laffey already this year. Could Weber really be worse?
Much of the case I made for Juan Perez to get the start could be made for Brett Cecil as well. If he was ever going to be a consideration, he’s certainly earned a shot– and, while not as much as Perez, and not as much lately, has shown that he can go multiple innings. Thing is, while we all know that Cecil used to be a starter,that was with a different repertoire, and pitching deep into games forced him to conserve his energy and pitch with less velocity, which proved to be a hindrance.
On the other hand, his velocity is higher than it was back when he flamed out as a starter last season, and could maybe withstand the dip. Plus, this season he has shown an ability to get right-handed hitters out that was never there before, and if this season is really about pushing luck and going all in, maybe risking fucking with Cecil just when it looks like he’s got it figured out as a reliever fits that philosophy. Shit, maybe he should be higher up my list. He truly has been exceptional this season, and unlike Juan Perez– given his age and his pedigree and his prior success– you get the sense that maybe this is a little bit more real. Maybe run with it?
Pro: Already on the roster, for some reason, after Wang’s D’ing FA, even though the club had zero players on the bench last night thanks to minor ailments befalling Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and J.P. Arencibia. (Lind, for what it’s worth, says he’ll play tonight, according to a John Lott tweet.)
Con: Is Todd Redmond.