So Tuesday was a very very sad day. It was one of those days that had me wondering why I care so much about baseball. It just crushes you.
Beyond his ability, Marcus Stroman was my favorite pitcher to watch. His every start you thought something special could happen. You knew you were watching a very good pitcher. And he's one of those guys whose personality shines through. He's kind of built for the Twitter age. He might not be a big guy but he's got a huge personality.
And, unlike some that are on Twitter a lot, he's very likable. He doesn't rub people the wrong way, he doesn't seem like he's showing off and he isn't obnoxious.
Anyway, are we totally screwed without him? I'd like to think we aren't. I keep hearing that we were a contender with him and now we aren't a contender. I don't see that one guy (unless he was Mike Trout) making that huge a difference.
Let's take a look at who might make up our pitching staff.
First the starters:
We have R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. They aren't young, Dickey is 40 and Buehrle is 35. Sooner or later they aren't going to be able to get us those 200 innings, but lets hope this isn't the year. Both were pretty decent last year. They have a better defense behind them and, I'm hoping, better (or at least more consistent) offensive support. They are both in contract years, (the Jays have a team option on Dickey but, unless he's really good, I doubt it gets picked up) so they have incentive to have a good season. I'm hopeful they have the same sort of season they had last year.
A number of people have picked Drew Hutchison to have a breakout year (including Jonah Keri, at Grantland) and, let's face it, if we are going to contend, he's almost going to have to have that breakout year. Last season, he was just coming off missing a season after Tommy John. This year, we can hope he's stronger, a little more consistent and, we can hope, he will have the better framing skills of Russell Martin helping him out. He is going to have to learn out to get lefties out, but I'm hopeful he'll get there.
Listening to Alex Anthopoulos, I think the team has pretty much decided that Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris are the ones getting the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation. I think the moment that Marcus got hurt was the end of any thought of Sanchez being in the pen. Marco Estrada might be the better pitcher at the moment (though after Thursday's game, that's hard to believe) but Sanchez and Norris have potential and, by the end of the season maybe they will be the better pitchers.
One of the worries about using the pair of them, is that they might be on an innings limit. I heard Jim Bowden do 20 minutes on how they can't use Sanchez and Norris because they won't be able to give us a full season worth of starts. I'm not sure if that's really true. Sanchez pitched 133 innings total last year. I'd imagine they would want to keep him to somewhere around 170 innings 170 innings isn't bad for a number 4 or 5 starter. Norris pitched 131 innings last year. He might have had a few more if it wasn't for the bone spurs in his elbow. Again, I'd think they would like to keep him around 170 innings. If we get 340 innings out of our 4 and 5 starts, I'd be thrilled.
Yeah, they are rookies and they'll likely have some ups and downs. Stroman had the odd bad start last year. But, I'm pretty sure that if Marco Estrada started 25 games for us, there would be a few bad starts too.
The only locks to make the pen, right now, are Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup. Brett Cecil could end up being the closer or shared closer.
Likely to make the pen:
- Steve Delabar: Steve has been hitting 95 with his fastball and he's throwing strikes. If that continues, he's in the pen.
- Wilton Lopez: From 2010 to 2013, Wilton pitched in 68, 73, 64 and 75 games. I think that impresses Alex. And he doesn't walk many, an average of 1.7 walks per 9 innings. He doesn't get a lot of strikeouts, but he keeps the ball on the ground. I think, as long as he doesn't look too bad this spring, he's got a spot.
- Marco Estrada: Despite the blow up yesterday, I think it is likely he makes the team. For one, he's making decent money this year. And he gets strikeouts. And they traded Adam Lind to get him. Course, he was so bad yesterday, you almost have to wonder if his arm is ok. If he has another couple of blowups like that, the Jays will find something wrong with him and he'll start the year on the DL.
- Todd Redmond: The way he pitched in the long relief role last year, he deserves to get the job again. He's pitched 3 innings so far this spring, has allowed 1 hit and has 1 k.
If those 6 make the team that would leave one spot (he says hoping the Jays don't go with a 8-man pen. Those with a spot at that last spot.
- Miguel Castro: Castro ended last year at Dunedin, I'd think the team wouldn't want to jump him all the way to the majors, but Gibby does like the idea of having his 99 mph fastball in the pen. They enjoyed having Sanchez doing that last year. I'd prefer him starting in the minors, but you never know.
- Chad Jenkins: I get the felling Chad is going to be making the trip back and forth to Buffalo as many times as he did last year. Gibby likes him, but he's having a tough spring, 7 hits, 5 earned, a walk and 2 strikeouts in 3 innings.
- Colt Hynes: If the team wants a 3rd lefty in the pen, he could be the guys. He's pitched 3 clean innings, so far, this spring, with 3 strikeouts. He's 30 and has a total of major league innings.
- Jeff Francis: Another possiblity if they decide on a 3rd lefty. He's allowed 2 hits, 1 walk with 4 strikeouts in 3 spring innings. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Toronto at some point this season, but I doubt he'll break camp with the team.
Others who have a shot at that last spot: Matt West, Preston Guilmet, Kyle Drabek, Rob Rasmussen and Gregory Infante.
There is also a chance there will be a trade or waiver pick up closer to the end of spring. It wouldn't surprise me if we pick someone up who makes the pen.