Archive for the ‘Rotation Battles’ Category


Following their most recent frustrating waste of time (entertaining game though!) the Jays have announced some changes to the makeup of their starting rotation.

Josh Johnson– according to Mike Wilner on the radio–was “tight” in the forearm following his last start and is going to get a little bit of extra rest, having his start pushed back two days to Wednesday. “We don’t think it’s a big deal,” says John Gibbons in his post-game media conference.

J.A. Happ will pitch tomorrow, which after Thursday’s off-day puts him on regular rest. Gibby also said something about his grandfather passing away, the implication being that this gives him the chance to make his start and leave the team to attend the memorial service.

Esmil Rogers, meanwhile, is headed back to the bullpen, as the bloom is long off his rose, after seeing his ERA improve from 3.12 following his June 29th start– his fifth of the year– to 5.12 following Friday’s seven run disasterpiece. Taking his place in the rotation will be Todd Redmond, who returns from Buffalo having put up 31 strikeouts and only 8 walks in 24.2 innings over five starts (4.38 ERA, though) since unceremoniously being optioned down by the Jays [Update: Hmmm... no, that's not right. Damn it, those are his numbers with the Jays. I just looked at his last split on BR's page for him and lazily threw it in here, assuming that's what he'd done since he went down. Obviously not right-- and actually, by the looks of it, he hasn't pitched since the demotion. Which also seems kinda odd].

So… yeah. Sounds about right, unless you were really pining for the club to bring up Sean Nolin or Marcus Stroman. But I’m sure that’s not going to be terribly far off anyway, at this point. 2013, you guys!

Mark Buehrle, for the record, will go on Thursday. And there’s no word on the reciprocal move for Redmond’s recall, but it’ll either be Mickey Storey getting sent down from the bullpen, or J.A. Happ being placed on the bereavement list.


Remember flexibility? Remember how vital to his project Alex Anthopoulos thought roster and payroll flexibility were?

Well, now he’s kinda fucked.

Over at Cot’s, they have the Jays listed as committed to $110-million already for next year. That doesn’t include an arbitration raise for Colby Rasmus that will take him into the $7-million range, the $4-million option for Casey Janssen, or the $5-million difference between Adam Lind’s buyout and the cost of picking up his option, nor does it include smaller arbitration raises for guys like Esmil Rogers, Brett Cecil, and J.P. Arencibia (assuming you even bother tendering him a contract– which, if we’re being honest about this mess, they pretty much have to).

So, if you’re simply maintaining this fugly status quo, that’s another $16-million plus, taking the payroll well above the $119-million Cot’s lists as the club’s 2013 number. And that’s before you factor in a potential $14-million qualifying offer to Josh Johnson (which would certainly still have to be in the cards, if he’s capable of fixing his issues from the stretch in the season’s final two months).

Shi Davidi wrote about this for Sportsnet today. “Unless a significant payroll hike from the current $120 million or so is coming for next year, or they manage to move some money through trades now or in the fall,” he writes, “the Blue Jays could have very limited financial flexibility.”

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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…

Marcus Stroman

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?

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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.

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Ramon Ortiz

Well… at least his face hasn’t aged in 15 years.

Hell of a dispiriting tweet right here from Barry Davis of Sportsnet:

Yes, it’s come to this. Unless Ortiz gets used, in which case it’s going to– somehow– probably come to someone even worse.

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

It never quite ceases to amaze me that there’s this conception among fans that athletes should think the same way about the good of the team and the sanctity of the game as they do. This arose earlier this winter in the fan reaction to the bluff made by Darren Oliver’s agent in an attempt to extract more money from the club, and I’m seeing it again today after sixth starter J.A. Happ voiced his displeasure with appearing to be ticketed for Buffalo to start the season.

“Considering it’s spring you’d think he would just keep his mouth shut and do what is good for the team. There’s no way AA is going to trade at this point in time no matter how much he cries? He’s still making major league money, time to suck it up,” says one comment.

“Happ needs to check his ego at the door and realize its all about winning,” says another. “Yeah, playing in the minors sucks but hes the 6th starter for fucks sakes. Its basically a given he will be up at some point and it could be even earlier if romero continues to suck.”

There are elements of these comments that I can’t help but agree with. The first is absolutely right that Happ doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter and should probably do a better job of not talking about it. The second is bang on about the fact that Happ isn’t very likely to wind up as John Lannan, who spent the bulk of 2012 in the minors after making 122 big league starts over the previous four years. The Nationals had remarkable health in their rotation last year– remarkable effectiveness, too– and it’s a solid bet that the Jays’ collection of arms aren’t going to quite be so otherworldly fortunate.

What’s missing, of course, is that Happ is concerned about his earning power as he heads into his third and final year of arbitration. Being “stuck” on this team as opposed to a number of others, where he’d actually get to start, could end up costing him two- or three-million dollars– if he stays down for a significant portion of the year. That’s not a tiny amount for a player of Happ’s stature in the game, even though it drives fans batty to think that someone could have the audacity to be upset when he’s already being paid more money than most of us could ever dream of. These players have a very short window in their lives in which to capitalize on the earning potential their baseball abilities, and at least a decade of full-on dedication to the sport have afforded them.

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I somewhat scoff, but it’s not exactly going to be an easy task tonight for the Jays, as we’ve learned from Tom Haudricourtt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that they’ll be taking on one of the Brewers’ better prospects, Tyler Thornburg, who comes up from Double-A Huntsville to make his Major League debut in place of Shaun “North of Steeles” Marcum.

Marc Hulet of FanGraphs had him as the Brewers’ number two prospect, while Keith Law had him at number four at In mid-May Hulet wrote that “Thornburg has defied the early scouting reports that pigeon-holed him as a future reliever because he was a short right-hander with a less-than-smooth delivery,” while Kevin Golstein of Baseball Prospectus spoke to a scout in April who was optimistic, because “with a 91-94 mph fastball, good curve, and change, we’re talking about three plus pitches.”

Hulet’s write-up adds that “on the down side he doesn’t get a great downward plane on his pitches, in part because of his size, and he tends to leave pitches up in the zone, which leads to more fly-ball outs than one would like to see,” so… maybe we’ll knock the fuck out of him. But the feeling I get based on completely unscientific remembrance of past Jays performances against barely-known rookies that they very well might not.

The Jays send Jesse Chavez to the mound.


Image via Cooper Neill/Getty.