Starting Pitching

Another morning where there isn't much for Jays news. There are little bits of baseball news. Mark McGwire's 'trainer' laughs about Mark's 'I only used steroids to recover from injuries' apology. Isn't saying 'I used to recover from injuries' kind of the equivalent to saying 'I only read Playboy for the interviews?' An Oakland A's prospect, Grant Desme is leaving baseball to go to the priesthood. I'm not religious at all but you have to admire someone that would give up the possibility of the money he could make in baseball to take a vow of poverty. The Orioles signed Miguel Tejada to a one year deal. And Buster Olney doesn't like the Mets trading for Gary Matthews, saying he:

"can't hit for average, can't hit for power, his defense ranks statistically among the worst outfielders in the majors, and, to top it off, rival scouts have been reporting that in recent years he has been a clubhouse negative."

Anyway, we have roughly 30 possible starting pitchers, here are some of them:

Shaun Marcum: Maybe our number one starter this year, depending on how he comes back from Tommy John. He was having a terrific season in 2008 before he was hurt, 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA and was almost as good the year before, 12-6, 4.13. I really like watching him pitch. Normal slider, fastball, change type pitcher, just seems to battle out there. 

Ricky Romero: Had a terrific start to last season, after being the punch line to thousands of JP Riccardi is so dumb jokes. 3.00 ERA in the first half, 5.54 in the second half. Quite likely tired, throwing many more innings than he ever had before.  A lefty that had more trouble with lefty batters last year (.297/.348/.531 vs LHB compared to .278/.373/.377 vs RHP). 

Brandon Morrow: Picked up from the Mariners for Brandon League. Throws hard, but has only started 15 games in his MLB career and last year pitched the most innings he has in the majors with just 69.2. So hoping he can make 33 starts and stay strong all season might be a little too much to expect. Strikes out lots of batters but walks too many, 5.7/9 last year. I'm not sure if Cito has the patience to watch that.

Marc Rzepczynski: He was great last year, moving up from AA to AAA to the Jays.11 starts for us, pitched 61.1 innings, allowing only 51 hits and striking out 60. He walked too many (30) but I'd like to think that, as he gets comfortable in the majors, the walk rate will come down. Just 24. We talk about the Jays having a lot of 'pitch to contact' pitchers, Scrabble isn't one of them.

Brett Cecil: Made 17 starts in his rookie season and had some good, some bad. 5.30 ERA doesn't look good but the 7-4 record shows he pitched well in some games. Cito did seem to leave him in to take a beating a few times. Often lefties need a couple of seasons to figure out how to get major leaguers out. I think he'll be good in the long run. Still just 23.

Brian Tallet: Did a good job as a swing man, pitched better in the first half than the second half of the year, but then threw a lot more innings than he ever had before. I think it is more likely that he'll be in the pen to start the year, but never know. I thought he was likely to be traded in the off season but hasn't happened. Had more trouble with lefty batters (.290/.376/.517) than righties (.259/.333/.415).

Scott Richmond: Started the season great, won the Rookie Pitcher of the Month award for April, but had a terrible second half to the season (8.44 ERA). But then pitched more innings than he ever had before. Needs to find a way to get out lefties. I think he's a long shot to make the rotation, but he has overcome longer odds. 

Jesse Litsch: Coming back from Tommy John, likely would be May or June before we see him, but when he's pitched in the majors he's been great: 3.81 ERA in 2007 and 3.58 in 2008. Never gets the credit he deserves for how good he's been, I'm not sure you could find a Jay pitcher that had two better seasons to start his career.

Dustin McGowan: He figures he'll be ready to pitch at the start of the season. If he can he has lots of talent, he could be very good. I think the Jays will bring him along slowly though. 

Kyle Drabek: At the top of our prospects list, I'd like to see him pitch the year in Triple-A but there might be pressure to put him in the rotation if he shows well in spring or if there are injuries. Would be good if they let him build up his arm though. 

Zach Stewart: Same as Drabek, needs to build up the arm so he can pitch a full major league season, but might be hard not to put him in the rotation if he looks really good in the minors

Brad Mills, David Purcey, Robert Ray and Casey Janssen: Each would need a great spring to make the staff and each are likely looking at their best/last chance to make it. All are getting to that age when it is harder to consider them prospects and we have several arms that have more potential that will be passing them by in the next year or two. 

We've also signed a handful of guys and given them spring invites Shawn Hill, Lance Broadway. Willie Collazo, and Zach Jackson all could possibly give us a few starts.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some and there are a handful of minor leaguers that could have a good season and come up at some point.

So let us know who you think will see time in the Jay's rotation.

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