I thought it would be a good idea, two months into the season, and with the June draft fast approaching, to take a look at how the Jays' young pitchers are doing in MLB. I won't get too much into the farm (which I'll save for someone who sees the players more often) except to say that the best looking prospects on the farm are Ricky Romero in AA, who is rehabbing an elbow injury, and David Purcey at AAA, who is 25. There is a real dearth of young, high-ceiling pitching prospects around the high A level, and that's a problem. But it's a problem for another day. Without further adieu (and resisting the urge to compare them to the actors above), here's the performance of our young pitchers thusfar this season.
Age IP Hits K/BB ERA BB/9 K/9 HR/9
Dustin McGowan 25 21 1/3 24 15/12 7.17 5.07 7.61 0.85
Jeremy Accardo 25 21 2/3 15 22/6 1.25 2.49 9.14 0
Casey Janssen 25 24 2/3 24 10/3 1.09 1.10 3.65 0.36
Jesse Litsch 22 17 19 2/5 4.24 2.65 1.06 1.59
Shaun Marcum 25 35 1/3 27 37/12 4.33 3.06 9.43 1.78
Gustavo Chacin 26 27 1/3 29 11/7 5.60 2.31 3.63 1.98
I didn't bother with Vermilyea, who is only 25 as well but has only pitched 6 innings in the majors this season.
These numbers really are interesting. They suggest several things. Dustin McGowan has shown improved control over his prior MLB career, but he is still walking far too many. He also seems a bit hittable for a guy with such a good fastball, but that may be a product of either bad luck or poor D (either in the OF or the left side of the infield, most likely). The problem is, when you're walking 5 guys per 9 innings, those seeing eye singles really hurt. Jeremy Accardo's performance thusfar looks sustainable, although peripherals can be a product of small sample size too. His K's have jumped, but that isn't unheard of for a 25 year old pitcher, and his BB numbers, contrary to what we saw last year with TO, haven't been bad. He will give up a HR eventually, but if he can limit the walks that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Casey Janssen on the other hand is a bit of a mystery. It looks like he's been lucky so far, but he has also done many things well. He has walked incredibly few, but has also not been striking out many. I know he looked horrible yesterday, but he has actually been striking out more recently (8 in his last 11 Innings) suggesting that that number will approach a more typical MLB K/9 as he gets more innings. He too, will have to deal with giving up HRs going forward. Meanwhile, Jesse Litsch doesn't appear MLB ready, although it is probably too early to tell (only 3 starts). Being a groundball pitcher is one thing, but Litch's K rate is ridiculously low and he appears to give up a lot of 2-strike singles because he doesn't really have an out pitch. He might benefit from time in AAA when Doc returns.
Shaun Marcum has generally pitched extremely well, with very good K numbers, not walking too many (for someone with such a good K rate), and he has been quite effective. However, his HR rate is quite high. He will want to work at limiting HR's, but more innings will probably naturally decrease the number as well. Gustavo Chacin has been around for a while, but is still only 26. He had not been pitching very well before he got hurt, but he has been an average-above average starter throughout his career, despite very pedestrian peripherals. It is hard to get too worried about his current injury or too worried about his impending return, however he has contributed in the past.
What do y'all think about the Jays young pitchers? So far this season, it appears that Accardo and Marcum can expect continued success, while the jury is still out on Janssen, despite his impressive work this season. McGowan has been the most frustrating, but remains intriguing because of his potential and because he alone of the Jays' young starters is a power pitcher.