For years now, Toronto Blue Jays' fans were treated to games filled with offense and big power. We've been lucky to watch some of the best power hitters in baseball wear the Jays' uniform. In fact, since 2010 the Blue Jays have hit more home runs than any other team in baseball.But, is it possible that the Jays' pitchers will be the savior for Blue Jays' baseball?
Over the same time period stated above (2010-present), the Jays' pitching staff has ranked 24th in WAR. So, we've had our share of bad pitching over the last few seasons. But, after years of hoarding young pitching talent, the Jays might finally be ready to reap the rewards.
The Jays' pitching staff already features two of the brightest young pitchers the Jays' have had in quite some time. Stroman and Sanchez have shown the ability to be the top of the rotation starters the Jays can build around.
We first saw Marcus Stroman (25 years old) in 2014 when he came up to provide bullpen help. This lasted only a short while before he was placed in the rotation where he excelled. 2015 was supposed to be the year we saw him breakout, but injury slowed him down a bit. He did eventually make it back to the team and was dominant in his 4 starts. He then went on to start 3 playoff games where he pitched well. Even though 2016 hasn't been great for Stroman thus far, his ability to generate ground balls and his makeup make many believe he still has a bright future.
Aaron Sanchez (24 years old) has had a slightly different path to the majors. Sanchez first came up in 2014 to provide bullpen help and thrived in the role. In 2015, some thought Sanchez should stay in the bullpen, but eventually he found his way into the rotation, but injury and poor bullpen play eventually placed him back in the bullpen. But, Sanchez wouldn't be denied in 2016 as he's been, arguably, the Jays' best starter so far this season. Unfortunately, we do know that Sanchez will be placed back in the bullpen at some time over the next month or so. But, the future is bright for the young righty.
But after these two, many don't realize how much young pitching talent the Jays have. But here's a quick look at who could be filling out the rotation around these guys in years to come.
Roberto Osuna (21) broke onto the scene in 2015 as an unexpected roster addition out of spring training. Many believed that his age would eventually catch up to him and he would be sent back down. Surprisingly, this never happened and Osuna has continued to impress in his time in the majors. Osuna has made it public that he would prefer to stay in the bullpen next season, but it appears that the organization would like to see him give starting a shot. Either way, Osuna brings a lot to the table and should be a valuable contributor for years to come.
Drew Hutchison (25) is often overlooked by people when we discuss young talent. While he doesn't posses the great ceiling of some other organizational arms, he does bring a lot to the table. Hutchison made 11 starts in 2012 before getting injured and requiring TJ surgery. Hutch missed all of 2013, but made his way back in 2014 and pitched 184.2 innings while maintaining a strong K rate. 2015 wasn't really the year many expected from Hutchison, but his SIERA of 4.09 suggests he was very unlucky. Hutch started this year in Buffalo where he's dazzled. He's currently 6-3 with a 2.78 ERA. He's striking guys out at a rate of 10 guys per nine innings. Hutchison is headed to the Triple-A All Star game on July 13, but soon after that we can probably expect Hutchison to be back in Toronto as he'll most likely take over for Sanchez when he moves to the pen.
Connor Greene (21) currently sits at number 2 on our BBB list of top prospects. Greene stepped up in a big way in 2015 as he made it all the way to New Hampshire. Greene started this season in Dunedin but was recently moved up to New Hampshire, once again, after pitching well in Dunedin. Greene projects as a middle of the rotation arm and should provide a nice 3rd pitcher behind Stroman and Sanchez in just a year or two.
Sean Reid-Foley (20) might have the highest ceiling of any of the minor league arms. Reid-Foley started the season at number 4 on our BBB prospect list but could be looking to move even higher up. Drafted in the second round in 2014, Reid-Foley features a mid 90's fastball and strong slider. He's a big kid who coaches have applauded for hsi competitiveness and mound presence. He's always been able to strike guys out (10.67 K/9), but has struggled with walking guys. So far this season, Reid-Foley has been able to reduce the number of walks and it's paying off. Across two levels, Reid-Foley has gone 6-3 with an ERA of 2.45. He's cutting back on the walks and generating more ground balls. If he can continue his development then he stands a good chance to be a top of the rotation type starter.
Jon Harris (22) was the Jays' first round pick in 2015. His first season in Vancouver didn't go the way he wanted, but this season has been a completely different story. Harris is currently 6-1, with an ERA of 2.59 in Lansing. The interesting thing about Harris is that while nothing about his game grades out as fantastic, there's also no glaring hole for him. He features 4 good pitches and has the ability to throw them for strikes. Harris has all the tools to move through the system quickly and should find his way to Dunedin soon. Harris doesn't have the same high ceiling that Greene and SRF do, but he also seems to be a bit safer pick. He most likely figures to be a strong arm in the middle of the rotation.
Angel Perdomo (22) might not be a household name, but he's someone we might want to start paying attention to. Perdomo was signed as an international free agent in 2011 at 17 years old. He's a 6-6 lefty with a strong fastball that should get into the mid 90's. Perdomo started the year at number 14 on our BBB prospect list. He's always been able to generate swing, evident by his career K/9 mark of 10.97. But, like many young pitchers, he's struggled with his control. Through his first 3 season Perdomo walked 52 batters, in only 84.1 innings. But, none the less, he still holds a career ERA of 2.75. He's currently in Lansing, and having another strong campaign. If Perdomo can continue to improve his command, then the sky's the limit for this kid.
These are only a few of the young talented arms the Jay's system boasts. When you add in guys like Jeremy Gabryszwski, Shane Dawson, Justin Maese, and Joesph Biagini, the Jays' young pitching looks quite good. While the reality is that not all of these guys will reach their full potential, and not all will reach the Majors in Toronto, the future of the Jays' pitching staff seems to be in good hands.