Sunday, 29 August 2010

Things we know and things we don't

Did you know that Cito was quoted after EE went on the DL saying McDonald would pick up most of the extra at-bats? Even after so much has rightfully been made of Snider sitting?

Really no point in ranting about that at this late date.

So, moving on to the rotations. A while back I did a post on how the rotation would play out towards the end of the season, with today's announcement regarding Brandon Morrow, we can now clear up some but not all of the previous uncertainty.

The announcement was that Morrow would make one more start, then be shut down for the year. Durng the course of explaining this, Alex Anthopoulos commented that the Jays' working theory was a young pitcher shouldn't exceed his previous high workload by more than about 20%, which if applied to Morrow leaves 5-6 innings to go.

So, who steps into the Jays rotation when Morrow takes a seat? That answer is much more unclear. There are, if you exhaust the list of potential candidates, six names which will most often come up:

1. Brad Mills - has been up twice this year, and would see the obvious candidate, but only started once (Aug. 17) after his last demotion and has made no appearance since, though he's not on the DL.

2. Kyle Drabek - Blair's apparently erroneous previous report aside, if we apply the 120% factor to Drabek, he can reach 190 IP this year (about 30 more IP to go, or roughly 5 starts). If the Fisher Cats advance to the championship series, Drabek will make 3 more AA starts. You could not, therefore, use him in Toronto until at least September 19, which is two starts too late to step into Morrow's role. If that wasn't enough, he'd have two starts in the tank and three to go before the end of the season in that spot. Drabek almost certainly won't be taking Morrow's spot.

3. Zach Stewart - the 120% factor means today may well have been his last start. If the Jays do push the limits on him enough to finish the AA season, surely he'll be shut down after that (which is just one more start). Not only does this take a big weapon away from the NH squad in the playoffs, but it makes it a certainty he won't be in Toronto this fall.

4. Scott Richmond - also playing for the AA squad, Richmond has no innings limitation but, given that the NH club will lose the services of Stewart for the playoffs, the Jays might be strongly inclined to leave Richmond down for the playoff run. Obviously the major league team is the priority, but if there are other options, they wouldn't want to sabotage the F-Cats. if he does stay down there through the playoffs, he might not be available before September 20.

5. Shawn Hill - Was doing great in his recovery from serious injury, but left his last AAA start (Aug. 25) after 1 IP when he couldn't get lose and went on the 7 day DL. If you see him start in the first 3 days of September then he might be the guy, if not, then we have to assume the injury is serious enough to prevent his appearing in Toronto simply because he'd have no place to re-hab and have missed too much time.

6. Bobby Ray - Okay, honestly, almost no one mentions him. But he's healthy (kind of unusual for him) has pitched well in five of his six August starts, and has no innings problem. If Hill and Mills are both unhealthy and the Jays choose not to call Richmond yet, Ray becomes the default option.

All that said, it should be noted that AA said the Jays would recall TWO starters in September. so the smart money may still be on Mills being the first to plug in. But be sure it's a conservative amount.

Something else to consider - Under the 120% Rule, Brett Cecil will likely be at least two starts short of finishing the season as well. It's in those two starts that you will likely see Richmond (and maybe, but not likely, Drabek).

But the truth is, there's a lot we still don't know yet. These are just factors involved, not definite information. Don't be surprised if Cito inexplicably gives the ball to Tallet.

One final observation - Chad Jenkins is already well past the 120% line, so I have no idea what that means.

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