The big question, on a team full of question marks looking to next season is who will full out the starting rotation.
There is only 2 of 5 spots that we can be sure about. Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
As it sits, Brandon would be the number 1. He's 8-7 with a 3.28 ERA, 94 strikeouts in 109.2 innings. For a change his ERA is better than his FIP (3.83) or xFIP (4.08). his strikeout numbers are down some (7.7/9 down from 10.2/9 last year), but his walks are down too (2.9/9 down from 3.5/9).
And Ricky, well you know. I'd like to think that he can't be this bad next year. I don't know what is going on, but he almost has to get better. Right?
Beyond those two, I'd think the Jays would give J.A. Happ a rotation spot. He had a 4.73 ERA in 6 starts with us, but then 2 of those starts were with a broken foot. He had 39 strikeouts, with 12 walks, in 32.1 innings. We gave up quite a few prospects to get Happ, we must plan to use him. You gotta like the strikeout rate.
After those three, I'd image Alex would want to bring a couple of pitchers from outside the organization in. Either by trade or free agency. There are some interesting pitchers that are likely to be free agents this off-season: Ryan Demster, Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Marcum, Brandon McCarthy and Anibal Sanchez among others.
Trade possibilities? We heard the Jays were scouting Brett Anderson, but I'm sure they are scouting anyone that they think could be available. James Shields? Tough trade to make in division but you never know what Alex might be able to pull off. I'm sure there are a dozen other trade possibilities.
Other in house choices:
Carlos Villanueva: Alex made it clear Carlos had to proe he could handle the innings a starter gets. September is really important for him, and so far September hasn't gone well. He has a 7.36 ERA in 4 starts this month. 22 innings, 26 hits, 7 walks and 14 strikeouts. Right now I can't see the Jays offering him a contract that befits a starting pitcher. Let's see how his last couple of starts go.
Henderson Alvarez: Henderson has had a bad season. It looks like he could start next year at Buffalo. He has had a good September. He is 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA, 19 hits, 9 walks and 12 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. His last two starts were very good. If he continues like this he could end up battling Happ for one of the spots in the rotation next year.
Chad Jenkins: He had a good start yesterday. He should have two more starts. Maybe he can show something. He should be able to put himself into a good spot to fill in when we need someone next year. I'd imagine he'll be a starter at Buffalo to start the season.
Aaron Laffey: Just kidding.
Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek: By late in the season one or both could be back.
Dustin McGowan: If the Jays go into next season betting, again, that he'll be part of the rotation, then we are in trouble. It would be great if he could pitch and, if he proves he can, figuring what to do with him will be a good problem.
How do you see our starting rotation shaking out next year?