As April closes the Blue Jays are likely to make some decisions about their Starting Pitching and Bullpen. As a team the Blue Jays have an ERA of 4.64 and a below average ERA+ of 94. On a quick glance those numbers are just under league average and not surprising considering the question makes at the start of the season. Right now they are playing like a .500 team as their pitching has been very inconsistent.
On paper considering talent and potential the starting rotation of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan had the chance to be a solid group. However considering the injury risks of McGowan, Morrow, the unproven Hutchison and the aging Dickey, Buehrle the Blue Jays also faced the risk of an inconsistent or injured rotation. To date they have received much more of the later and it might be time to make a change.
Overall the Blue Jays starting pitching has an ERA of 4.41 which puts the 24th in the MLB. Overall it has not been great but lets look a little deepr.
Buehrle – He has been an absolute thrill to watch this year, in his first 4 games he pitched way beyond expectations and even with a forgivable 5th performance he easily leads the crew with an ERA of 2.16 and a dominant ERA+ of 198. Not only has he pitched well, he has averaged 6.7 IP/game which has given the pen needed rest. He has been everything the Blue Jays wanted and then a lot more.
Hutchison – The youngster on the staff has pitched above expectation in his 6 starts with a 3.82 ERA and a 113 ERA+. He has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched and 2.7 BB/9 IP giving him the best SO/BB ratio at 3.80 amongst the rotation. Considering he was not a lock for the rotation coming off Tommy John surgery, Hutch has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed. He has been given the worst run support on the staff at 2.8 per game which accounts for his 1-2 record. Overall he has been pitching well and has been going on average 5.5 innings per game which pretty good for a young starter.
Dickey – Dickey has to be the most frustrating player on the roster, you just never know what to expect. On any given day he will be somewhere between brilliant and awful, you never know if his knuckleball will show up. This has lead to a 5.09 ERA and an ERA+ of 84 in 6 starts. He is walking way to many at 4.6/9 IP which has lead to a lot of runs, especially near the end of his night. Gibbons has been giving him a little more of a quick hook as he tends to be hit hard as he tires. Overall Dickey has not lived up to expectations, one would expect some improvement but my overall outlook is more of a #3-4 instead of a team Ace.
Morrow – This is where it starts to get really ugly. Morrow has allowed the least amount of hits at 7.7/ 9 IP but also has walked guys at an alarming 6.4/ 9 IP. He has been terrible, his ERA is at 6.04 with an ERA + of 71. He has averaged only 4.5 IP per start meaning the pen must pick up the other 4.5 innings of work. He has shown some great velocity at times hitting upwards of 98 MPH but his control has been so poor that he his velocity means nothing. Opposing batters are only swinging at 41.8% of his pitchs, without command of his pitches Morrow has been walking way too many guys.
McGowan – In McGowan’s first 4 starts he was really bad and at risk of loosing his spot. After a strong start against the Royals he might have earned a few more appearances. Still his overall 5 game performance adds up to a 5.87 ERA/ 75 ERA+, 5.9 SO/ 9 IP and a weak 4.6 IP per start. Overall McGowan has pitched well 2/5 times but his 3 poor starts all lasted 4 innings or less with 3 or more runs. McGowan has always been praised for his “stuff” and at 32 the time of him being a started could be limited. Like I said he might have earned a few more starts but he is on a short leash.
The bullpen was considered one of the Blue Jays strengths but instead it has been a weakness. The group has combined for a terrible 5.03 ERA which lands them 28th in the MLB. Consider that in 2013 they finished the year in 9th overall at 3.37. I won’t go into too much depth regarding the pen but the biggest issue has been the walks. They have allowed an astonishing 5.12 BB/ 9IP which can not be tolerated.
Right now the Blue Jays have J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and Chad Jenkins as long men in the 8 man bullpen. Jenkins can be optioned, Redmond has been very good which leaves Happ & Rogers as the guys who might be DFA’d or traded. With Casey Janssen coming back shortly the Blue Jays could simply option Jenkins but they still have 3 guys filling one role on a bloated 8 man pen which in turn has resulted in a cycle of roster moves on the 3 man bench. It might be time to cut bait on Rogers and see if they can find a new home for Happ. With both of them gone, Neil Wagner can return and the Blue Jays have more then enough options in the minors to fill out the pen.
With all of this said, numerous reports have indicated that Marcus Stroman could be joining the team shortly. It might be time to find an “injury” for Morrow who has been the worst of the starters. May will see a different look on the pitching staff and changes in the rotation look to be coming. I think its a good idea to give your guys around 5 starts to get a good look and so far McGowan & Morrow have not lived up to task. Change in May is very likely.