Question time: How would you put together the Jays rotation for the playoffs?
The first 3 starters, in our playoff rotation would be easy. David Price, Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey.
Price has been great since joining the Jays (well, he was great before that too, but we didn't care). In his 10 Blue Jays starts, he has a 1.95 ERA and an 8-1 record. 69.1 innings, 51 hits, 3 home runs, 17 walks and 81 strikeouts. We got him to be our game one starter and, all going right, he will be.
Stroman has made 3 excellent starts, since coming back from the DL. He's 3-0, with a 1.89 ERA. In 19 innings, he's allowed 15 hits, 1 home run, 4 walks with 10 strikeouts. He's been almost unbelievably good. I only say 'almost' because it is Stroman, I would never bet against the guy. I'll admit I did expect it would take him a couple of starts to put it all together. It didn't. His strikeout numbers are a little low, but he had 5 in 7 innings last night.
Dickey had an awful first half of the season, but he's been very good in the second half. Since the break he is 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA. In 13 starts, he's thrown 87.2 innings, allowing 77 hits. 8 home runs, 17 walks and has 51 strikeouts.He's allowed 2 or fewer earned runs in 9 of those 13 starts.
The question, in my mind, is who gets the final spot in the playoff rotation, Mark Buehrle or Marco Estrada.
Buehrle had a great start to the season, but he's struggled a bit lately, fighting nagging injuries. He's had starts pushed back in an effort to keep him healthy. In the first half, he had a 3.34 ERA, but his second half ERA is 4.36. Batters hit .262/.293/.419 against him in the first half and .304/.330/.458 since the break. He should have 2 starts left, he needs to go 14.2 innings to get to the 200 inning mark again. I think it is important for him to have 2 good starts.
Estrada has been surprisingly good since joining the rotation. As a starter, he has a 3.28 ERA, in 26 starts. Since the break, he is 7-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 starts. In those 80 innings, he's allowed 53 hits, 11 home runs, 25 walks with 51 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .191/.261/.360 against him since the break. And he came close to a no-hitter, back in June.
It's a tough call. I'd lean towards Buehrle, if he looks good in his last 2 starts. I think Estrada would be handy to have in the bullpen. He could throw multiple innings, or just 1 good one, when we need it. I'm not sure I'd want Buehrle in the bullpen. I think I'd let Mark's last two starts of the season make the decision for me. Also, if Mark was starting in the playoffs, if it were up to me, he'd have a short leash.
Now, I'm expecting we win the AL East, but if we were to play in the one game Wild Card playoff, of course I'd want David Price starting.
The Divisional Series is a best of 5 games. 2 at one team's home, 3 at the other. If the Jays win the AL East, we'd have the first two games at home. I'd go Price, Stroman, Dickey. Then likely Buehrle in game four (if needed) and Price again in game five (if needed).
The League Championship series and the World Series are best of 7's. If I could set up the rotation the way I'd like, I think I'd switch Stroman and Dickey in the order. Put Dickey between the hard throwing Price and the hard throwing Stroman. Maybe give Stroman the benefit of whatever next day effect a knuckleball pitcher has on a team. That would also separate the soft throwing Dickey from the soft throwing Buehrle (or perhaps Estrada) in the rotation too. And it would give a potential game 7 to Marcus. Of course, you might not get to set your rotation the way you would like it after the first round. But if you could, I'd like to go Price, Dickey, Stroman, Buehrle (or Estrada), Price (if needed in game 5), Dickey (in game 6) and Marcus (pitching us a complete game and winning us the series in game 7) (might as well dream big).
What would you do with the Jays playoff rotation?