Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Quick Hit: Starting pitcher depth?

Conversations rumble about how thin the Jays are behind the Front 5 starters, with reference made to past years and how many pitchers got at least 1 start (9 in 2014, 13 in 2013 for example) for the big league club. Keeping in mind that for some of those guys it WAS just one start.

I won't bore you with a regurgitation of the circumstances which led to those often sub-standard substitutions - it wouldn't be a Quick Hit then now would it?

So here we go - a rough order of priority, in a circumstantial vacuum, in which we might see starters beyond the projected Opening Day rotation. This attempts to strike a balance between number of starts they'd be allowed and the order in which they'd be turned to.

Tier 1
6. Marco Estrada - truth is, they are six good options deep at a minimum;
7. Roberto Osuna - they could stretch him out if it looked like the need would be long-term;
8. Todd Redmond - he's shown himself capable before and he's not the only long man now;

Tier 2
9. Randy Wolf - if he does well once the season starts he could potentially jump to #7 only because  if the need is really long term, Osuna probably couldn't hold up to accumulate more than 100 IP so Wolf might be a natural fit if he proves worthy; Possibly he could really such and drop down to around #15 too;
10. Liam Hendricks - they are clinging to him for some reason, but if you get to him, for more than one or two spot starts, you have to pray the team knows something you don't. So far he's struggled to turn good AAA stats into MLB results;
11. Chad Jenkins - he's been better than Hendriks in spot start opportunities, despite poorer AAA stats;
12. Andrew Albers - has the virtue of having started and exceeded expectations for the Twins a couple of years ago

Tier 3
13. Jun Pablo Oramas - not likely on your radar, he's better than you think he is. No, really. Maybe a sleeper in terms of potential major league contribution.
14. Johan Santana - kinda of an odd placement, if he shows anything like a measure of his previous ability he's top tier, maybe #6 or #7 - but not before June at the earliest;  If he doesn't show much but is still able to pitch at all, this is about right - he can't do worse than ...
15. Jeff Francis - okay NOW you can start to worry;
16/17. Matt Boyd/Taylor Cole - If they pitch in AA this year like they did in Dunedin last year, they have to be on the radar if things get bad enough they have to consider giving Francis a start. They are not A-list prospects but they do have good arguments. Boyd is a LHP who shows up on some Top 30 lists (Including Sickels at #16, MLB at #22, and Fangraphs at #29); Cole led the entirety of minor league ball in strikeouts and while technically old for the level, is not old in terms of experience after taking time off for a Mormon mission. They could either of them get some Graveman like helium.
18. Rickey Romero - I know I know, but I can't make this list without mentioning the non-zero possibility he finds his stuff again. Like Santana, if  he really does get it back, this is far too low, but unlike Santana, we can't be certain all his issues arose strictly from health issues so a higher degree of suspicion is warranted.
19. Scott Copeland - mentioned only because the team made specific mention of having him stretched out for added depth, something you wouldn't normally bother to comment on for an Org Guy (which he surely is, though I wouldn't rule out a future as a fringey reliever)
20. Jeff Hoffman - should be crazy to contemplate this, but you can't rule out him coming together so well that he blasts through the system for an August debut. Which could be very good news or a sign of complete unmitigated disaster in Toronto.

Last year, the guy with the 8th most stars was..Hendriks, with 3 (Norris had 1 but being a September gift isn't really relevant); in 2013, the #8 guy was Chin-Ming Wang with 6 (5 others combined for 11 beyond him) and Hendricks projects AT BEST to be the 10th option this year and could readily be considerably lower.

I'll argue we have deeper depth this year than last.
Stroman stepped in when an early opening came up and was excellent - let's imagine Osuna could play that role (again, innings limitations may apply);
Happ was promoted as the first internal option - that's Estrada;
Hendriks was the emergency plug-in  - Rednond has demonstrated solid results Hendriks can't cite;
Norris only had the one meaningless start but maybe that's Hoffman?
Looking at 13, Wolf CAN'T suck as bad as Wang did I don't imagine; Ditto Albers (just to try to compare vaguely similar status) in relation to Romon Ortiz; Jenkins was #10 that year with 3 starts, he falls at a similar spot on the depth chart this year; I won't belabor the comparison further for folks who got less than 3 starts.

In short - our depth is just fine. Sure, if they can stock up on guys like Chacin or Maholm on minor league deals, it can't hurt to add more - but the depth is no thinner than it ever is, and no more so than it is for almost any team around.

1 comment:

Mylegacy said...

I see us having FOUR pitchers on the team going north with two starting pitching slots between them.

Specifically, Sanchez and Norris are the two "winners" in Spring Training but Osuna and Castro are both on the team and each is ready to replace anyone who falters.

By season's end I wouldn't be surprised to see that all FOUR of the young guns have made starts.