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Better Know Your Blue Jays 40-man: Anthony Kay

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MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

You know the story. Anthony Kay was picked up at the end of July 2019, along with Simeon Woods Richardson, from the Mets, for Marcus Stroman. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that Blue Jays fans didn’t universally love the move. Our thread on the trade was a mess of complaints, but Marcus was a popular and productive player.

The trade was much like what I expected. In the month before the trade, I wrote that I expected the Jays would want to get a pitcher who was nearly major league ready and a pitcher further away, with a higher upside. That’s much what we got. Many complained that Wood Richardson wasn’t as highly rated a prospect as we had hoped to see, but now that he’s been in the system for a bit, we are happier to have him.

Kay?

Going into last season, he was number 7 on our top prospects list. Matt wrote:

Moving up to AAA proved to be a big adjustment, with a 6.61 ERA/6.21 FIP prior to the trade. He was better for Buffalo in August, though inconsistent with some walk issues. Needing to be added to the 40-man anyway after the season, he was called up and made three starts for the Jays, posting a 5.79 ERA though much more promising 2.64 FIP in 14 innings.

Kay uses three pitches, mixing in a curve and change-up in addition to his fastball. The fastball had better velocity than expected, averaging almost 94 MPH in his big league stint. The curve is a two plane breaking ball in the high-70s as opposed to the more classic 12-6 hammer. He showed good feel for it, but it’s not really a swing-and-miss plus secondary weapon.

I had expected he would have a shot at the rotation, but then we signed a handful of backend-type guys (and Hyun Jin Ryu) over the off-season, and Kay ended up looking for a spot in the bullpen. Then the world changed. The season was delayed and shortened. With starting pitchers not stretched out, relievers became more important, and more were needed than in a normal year.

Kay was an instrumental part of the pen.

In his first 11 games, he had a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings. Batters hit .215/312/.369 with 17 strikeouts (and 10 walks).

His last two appearances didn’t go well. 7 earned in 2.2 innings. The trouble with such a short season, a couple of bad outings can wreck an ERA. Kay finished with a 5.14 ERA. If those two bad games happened in game 44 and 47 of a normal season, there would have been a lot of season left for him to bring his ERA back down.

After the two bad games, Kay was sent to the ‘Alternate Training Site,’ getting called back up at the end of the season, but he didn’t get to pitch again.

This year?

At the moment, he’s being stretched out to prepare to be a starter. He’ll likely start the season either at Buffalo or at this year’s alternate site. But I’m sure we’ll see him in the majors (I’m so used to typing ‘see him in Toronto’) at some point. I’d imagine he’ll be up and down a few times. I continue to think I’d rather have him in the rotation than Tanner Roark.

PECOTA predicts that he will pitch in 32 games, starting 6, getting in 43 innings, with a 4.21 ERA. Sounds fair to me. He could get a few spots starts. But then, if a spot start goes well, he could get a run of starts.

ZiPS sees him being a starter. They have him making 20 starts in 29 appearances, with a 5.09 ERA. I’d be under on the 20 starts, but an injury or two and it could happen.

Poll

If the over/under on Kay’s MLB inning is 50 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Over
    (146 votes)
  • 27%
    Under
    (55 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Most of Kay’s MLB innings will come

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    As a starter
    (89 votes)
  • 54%
    As a reliever
    (106 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Most of Kay’s 2021 innings will come in

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    The majors
    (104 votes)
  • 46%
    The minors
    (89 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now