Pitching: a totally natural human motion, eh?
Well, if you’re going to play the kids, you might as well play the kids, eh?
Despite talk of Todd Redmond getting the ball on Thursday, as the Jays turn to Charley Wholestaff in order to cover for the suspended Marcus Stroman, according to a tweet from Barry Davis, the club has decided instead to give us a little taste of the future: Dan Norris will get the start (which you knew already, because you read the title of this post).
Well… not necessarily.
To be sure, there are things to like about this. Norris is going to be a big part of this club in the coming years, and the Jays’ attempt to get his feet wet at the big league level this month hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly — save for his debut strikeout of David Ortiz, but even that at-bat was right on the very edge of going wrong — and maybe he’ll fare better getting into his starters routine, rather than being sprung from the bullpen at a moment’s notice.
Having him end the year on a high note seems like a reasonable hope, though I’m not sure we can entirely chalk up his struggles against big league hitters — especially right-handers, the ten of whom he’s faced so far have produced three hits and two walks — to coming out of the bullpen. If anything, working short stints should have given him an advantage over what we’ll see Thursday night, though the fact that his fastball’s average velocity so far in the majors has been just 91.3 suggests that he wasn’t necessarily “ramping up” the way you might expect. But it will be good to see him get an extended look at big league hitters, as to this point he hasn’t pitched more than one inning at a time.
That, though, is the other thing. Norris certainly isn’t stretched out for this.
The Jays are obviously aware of such a fact and will have him on a pitch count — Megan Robinson tweets that John Gibbons says he hopes to get just two or three innings out of his youngster — but even that is a lot for a guy who hasn’t exceeded two innings of work since his final start for Buffalo, almost exactly a month to the day that he’ll be asked to make his debut start in the big leagues. His last outing of even two innings was back on August 31st.
There’s concern there, I suppose, and perhaps with the fact that he’s already logged 128 innings across four levels in 2014, after reaching just 90.2 innings last season, buuuuuuuut at least he’s been getting regular-ish work over the previous month, and at least the club isn’t expecting him to go remotely deep into tomorrow’s game. By the sound of it, the main idea really is to get him into his routine, and having him prepare to pitch at a certain time, rather than throwing him into the fire.
I can live with that. And I can certainly live with getting a look at the player about whom, when he was called up in early September, Craig Goldstein and Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus wrote this:
Norris can come at hitters with a four-pitch mix that is fronted by a quality fastball and slider combination. Norris can run the fastball toward 95 mph when he needs a little extra and sits comfortably in the low 90s. His fastball has very good movement and he can work it east-west with ease. The slider comes in around the mid-80s with plus potential, giving Norris two pitches that can be high-end major-league offerings.
Behind the fastball, Norris is still developing his arsenal. Both the curveball and changeup are a little rough around the edges, though they each flash potential to be average pitches at peak. In my viewings the curveball showed more potential to become an average pitch, with the changeup resting in the fringy range.
The command profile still has to come along to match the primary two pitches, but he shows an ability to move the fastball around the zone and can take the hitter out of the strike zone with the slider. Norris’ ability to move the fastball around the zone at a young age hints at the potential for an advanced control-and-command profile that should serve him well against the best hitters in the world.
Yep. I can definitely live with that.
Meanwhile, Megan Robinson tweets that Marcus Stroman will only be available as a reliever from here out, with Jays’ rotation for the club’s final six games looking like this: Dickey – Buehrle – Norris – Hutchison – Happ – Dickey. Brendan Kenedy adds that John Gibbons says the decision to move Stroman to the bullpen, and not have him face Baltimore had nothing to do with trying to alleviate any tension given what happened the last time Stroman faced the O’s. Good on Gibbers if it really was, though.