At the start of Spring Training I looked at some questions the Blue Jays needed to answer before Opening Day. The biggest question in my mind was “Who would be the starting 5 guys” and a few weeks later there is some clarity to this question but still no major resolve.
At the beginning of Spring I suggested the rotation would probably look something like this:
Based on hints from John Gibbons the rotation should look something like this come opening day:
Now looking at those two lists you might think that outside of some shuffling nothing has changed but really a lot has changed over the past two weeks.
Dickey & Buehrle – At this point all is status quo with these veteran workhorses, they have been getting in some minor league work mixed in with a few regular spring training games. They have nothing to prove, it’s just work at this point and Dickey has managed to get his pitch count up to 100 pitches as he settles into the stretch before opening day.
Morrow – It appears the Jays will slot Morrow in the 5th spot, apparently to give him more time to prepare for the season. I am not really confident in that answer and makes me wonder if Morrow isn’t 100%. It is possible that they want Morrow to start the Home Opener vs the Yankees instead of a guy like Hutchison but really I don’t see 2 or 3 days making a huge impact at this point.
Happ – After two absolutely terrible starts Happ became the punching bag of upset fans. Right after word of an apparent “back injury” surfaced he briefly was not even with the team to recover. A few rumours surfaced that he might have been traded when it looked like Ervin Santana had signed with the Jays. Happ returned today and pitched 2.2 IN allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 4 BB/ 2 SO. This was not the type of start Happ needed, he continues to struggle with massive pitch counts and ineffectiveness. I would not be surprised to see some type of DL stint to give him more time. The Jays have always valued Happ, however the fans are loosing faith.
Rogers – The 4th spot is his for the taking if he can show some improvement over his last few starts. To date his 7 ER in 9 IN are not inspiring but he has 12 SO/4 BB which is much more encouraging. Rogers takes the mound tomorrow and this could be a big opportunity for him to step up and grab the last spot.
Redmond – I have been saying Redmond is a DFA candidate and its true as he is out of options and due to roster issues might lose his spot. Of the 3 remaining guys he has had the best showing. On March 16th he went 5 IN allowed 2ER on 4 hits with 4 SO/ 1BB. That is a pretty good showing for #5 starter and pretty much what the Jays need. If he can pitch more like that he might find his way into the rotation in the 4th slot until a better option arrives.
The other guys no longer in the running:
Ricky Romero – Romero was on the verge of an epic comeback showing flashes of the former All-Star of a few years ago. Everyone is cheering for Romero to find himself and prior to his last start he had shown very positive signs. However on March 18th in 2.2 IN Romero could not find the strike zone and looked like a total mess allowing 5BB. If Detroit had not had run into 3 outs attempting to steal, Romero might have let up a lot more than 3 runs. If Romero can build on the positives such only allowing 4 ER in his spring starts, he might find his way back.
Marcus Stroman – Stroman came to camp with the highest amount of confidence but as he returns to minor league camp he hopefully will see more room to grow. In watching him pitch I can see the potential but he is just not ready for MLB. Once he fine tunes a few things he should find his way up to the bigs this year.
Kyle Drabek – Drabek most likely needs more time to get back into from post Tommy John Surgery. His chances where pretty slim to begin and unlike Hutchison who has shown he is ready for the MLB, Drabek did not impress. Drabek has yet to show he is MLB worthy but should get another chance in the next year if he is dominating in the minors.
Chad Jenkins – Jenkins never really had much of a shot considering he has options left and there are many other guys ahead of him on the depth charts but he has pitched well enough in his limited MLB career to hope he might be adequate. Most of the guys ahead of him either have more upside or are out of options. No real shame for Jenkins as he pitched much better then most of the other candidates but will find his way back to the minors for now.