Due to the lack of real news out of Blue Jays land for quite some time, it's the perfect opportunity to start using our imaginations to make our own fun. Something that I don't think has ever been done around here is combining the skills of the Blue Jays pitching staff to create the ultimate shutdown pitcher. As most of us know, the team's throwers bring a variety of unique skills to the table that could be combined to create a pretty fantastic pitcher. For the purpose of this exercise we'll assume the repertoire of this Frankenstein includes a four-seamer and sinker as well as a slider, curveball and changeup. Obviously there is no competition for the knuckleball position so we'll just hand that one to R.A. Dickey right now.
Four-Seam Fastball- Aaron Sanchez
Before breaking onto the major league scene at the end of the 2014 season, all the talk about Sanchez focused in on his nasty fastball and impressive curveball. His time in Toronto did nothing to dispel the notion that the righty could throw serious heat, especially in limited innings from the bullpen. There's not a large amount of difference between his sinker and fastball as they both hit north of 96 mph on the radar gun with arm-side run. On many teams his sinker would also be used for this ultimate pitcher, but fortunately for Blue Jays fans there's someone with an even better one.
Sinker- Marcus Stroman
By now most people have fallen in love with Stroman's sinker as it features a ridiculous amount of arm-side movement that makes hitters look foolish. When he first came up to Toronto he almost exclusively threw the four-seamer, but as he became comfortable with the sinker his usage rate nearly flipped. As pointed out in a recent piece over at FanGraphs, in late July he started to prefer throwing the sinker over the straighter fastball and never looked back for the rest of the season.
He just edged out his rookie partner Sanchez when it comes to PITCHf/x runs above average per 100 pitches for his sinker compiling a 2.93 versus a 2.87 number for the latter. If Stroman can keep this up in 2015, who knows where his ceiling is (hint: probably higher than the Canadian economy).
Slider- Drew Hutchison
When the young righty was making his way up through the minor leagues, Drew Hutchison's slider was considered to be a plus secondary offering along with his changeup. During his relatively short time in the Major Leagues, the slider has become the clear number two pitch although it likely still has even more room to improve. Since Stroman's pitch is considered a cutter most of the time and Casey Janssen definitely isn't on this team anymore, Hutchison essentially gets his slider used on this project by default. If a pitch can make Nick Swisher look like this though, then it almost certainly needs to be included.
Curveball- Brett Cecil
The pitch that essentially saved Brett Cecil's career and turned him into an All-Star reliever definitely deserves to be given to this ultimate pitcher. A story of redemption will give this emotionless robot a bit of a sentimental backstory, which will help him become a fan favourite on a team whose fans love an underdog. All Blue Jays followers know the tale of Brett Cecil being a not-very-good starter and then becoming a two-pitch reliever that strikes out anyone willing to try and hit his curve. According to FanGraphs, the pitch was easily the best curveball used by a reliever in 2014 and even held it's own against Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw when factoring in starting pitchers. It's just so beautiful.
Changeup- Mark Buehrle
This selection isn't close either, as Buehrle has featured one of the best changeups in the league for years. It's likely in large part due to the fact that his fastball feels like a changeup to most hitters and his actual changeup doesn't appear to actually have any velocity at all. He's thrown the pitch over 20% of the time in each season since 2010 and it's been a nice little weapon for the southpaw. Although he doesn't strike a ton of people out, there's a good chance that if he does, it probably came off the changeup. It's best to not even attempt to find a GIF of a Buehrle changeup because there's a not insignificant chance that it could actually be his cutter or fastball or maybe even an eephus.
Swag- Marcus Stroman
By this point, our robot Blue Jays pitcher is pretty good at baseball but oftentimes that isn't enough to put butts in seats. A little pizazz can go a long way to making a new fan favourite, which is what the swag of Marcus Stroman does. Even before the Duke product came up to the Major Leagues, people knew all about his #HDMH hashtag and his love for style and haircuts. While some people prefer their major league players to be quiet, plain figures, the younger generation seems to relate much more to players who showcase their personality regardless of what people think.
Wisdom- R.A. Dickey
While it's good to have players who are energetic and flashy, it's also good to have some veteran wisdom in a pitcher and that's what R.A. Dickey provides. Although there's rumours that literally no one in the Blue Jays clubhouse can relate to him, it's no secret that Dickey is a smart and thoughtful man who has been through a lot in his life. When this pitching robot hits some tough times, the wisdom instilled in it by R.A. Dickey will guide it back to success with a variety of anecdotes that no one quite understands.
There you have it folks, the ultimate pitcher made up of a variety of parts from the Blue Jays staff. I'm sure some of you have your own suggestions (serious or otherwise) that you want to make so let us know in the comments what's missing from this Frankenstein of a pitcher. Special thanks to Minor Leaguer for the amazing Photoshop job for this piece.