With the blockbuster trade that sent us Bluebird Banter folk (and much of the baseball world) into an anarchic state of hysterical "fandemonium", It naturally led me to muse on the 2013 Toronto Blue Jay roster. More specifically, being that I am a pitcher (a self-proclaimed one at that) and that the Blue Jays were more-or-less poor at pitching (that may even be an undeserved euphemism), I was drawn to projecting what the 2013 Major League staff would look like. Even with an amateur insight into the Blue Jays, I was left with a few dilemmas I'd like to hear everyone's feedback on.
As we all learnt today rosters are subject to major change, so with that caveat in mind I tentatively projected the Blue Jays pitching staff to look something like this:
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
4. Ricky Romero
5. J.A. Happ
LRP/LOOGY Brett Cecil
MRP Esmil Rogers (Multiple inning potential)
MRP Brad Lincoln (Multpile inning potential)
MRP Sergio Santos
SU Darren Oliver (provided he doesn't retire*)
SU Steve Delabar
Initially I wanted the opposition to face at least one RHP in a 3-game series, and slotting Morrow as the #3 ensures that another team would. Also I came away impressed with Happ's brief stint with Toronto, and his strong K rates lead me to believe he can stick as the #5 starting pitcher for this squad. Additionally, I think the bounty of young players exchanged in his acquisition might be an indirect pressure on AA to push for Happ as a viable major league starter. This was less of a contentious observation than the following one.
Quickly I was frustrated with the notion that the newly-acquired smoke-thrower Jeremy Jeffress (inconveniently out of options arguably because a strategy used by Milwaukee to protect him from punishment of his past marijuana abuses) was left subject to irrevocable waivers, and same goes to Cory Wade. While the potential loss of Wade doesn't bother me, I can't say the same about Jeffress. He's currently in the Dominican Winter League polishing his craft, and after reading his interview on this very site, I came away hoping, however whimsically, that he could become a successful major leaguer with the Blue Jays. His potential as a high-leverage reliever is apparent, and his rediscovered dedication to the game of Baseball leaves me cheering for the underdog (and who doesn't like an underdog).
Other problems were more of the trivial sort, starting with which pitcher would pitch in higher leverage situations. Predictably my denotions of "MRP", and "SU" offer an insight into who I would hope pitches the 5th-7th innings, though more specifically low and medium leverage situations and who I hoped would pitch the 8th and 9th innings, and more medium and high-leverage situations. I do hope that the Blue Jays select a manager who is more flexible in his usage of pitchers, understanding that the most important situation in a ball game may not be in the late innings, and that the Jays best relief pitcher may have to be used unconventionally, though I digress. Sergio Santos' somewhat severe should injury (pardon my alliteration), coupled with Steve Delabar's impressive second half led me to think that Delabar could be used as a set-up man, while lessening the pressure on Santos to perform at levels he hasn't pitched to in over a calendar year.
Controversially, I came up with an alternative solution that would help solve my subsequent heartbreak of losing Jeffress to another team in need of his services (though admittedly I'm not entirely comfortable with this scenario). I do believe Brad Lincoln has a minor-league option remaining. With that being said, perhaps the Jays want to see what Lincoln can do in AAA Buffalo as a starter, thus leaving a reliever spot available for Jeffress to slide into. This would add depth in the event of an injury, and considering the Blue Jays just absorbed Josh Johnson and his precarious durability, it's likely the Jays will need another starting pitcher down the road, as most teams do.
What would you ladies and gentlemen do to solve my issues? Is there a bullpen optimization that I'm not taking into account? Is my slotting of our starting pitchers off-base? What are your general thoughts on the prospective 2013 pitching staff?
I enjoy all of your thoughts, and I plan on being on this site 25 hours a day to quell my baseball-missing woes. GO JAYS.