So the topic du'jour concerning the Blue Jays is, of course, pitching acquisitions, notably starting pitching. Hardly a day goes by without a fresh article parsing stats, some more relevantly than others, but (almost) all coming to the same conclusion: the Jays are obliged to go out and trade for a better starter than the ones they have. While I'm all for upgrades, there's one analysis I haven't seen (not that I am ANNNNNYthing like an analyst) and that's the split BR and AR (Before Redmond and After Redmond).
If you recall, on May 18, in the 40th game of the season, the Blue Jays elected to push back the rotation an extra day and give Todd Redmond a spot start. Now, I don't pretend to have any insight into what that one extra day off did for them - I'm skeptical it was just a matter of rest. The last previous off day was only 10 days previous after all. But what do I know? Anyway, it's been 30 days since then, 27 games which is not a giant sample, but it's 1/6th of a season. What ca we learn from looking at this split?
First. as a
team, the Jays gave up 4.9 runs per game through that game, and 3.55
runs per game since.
Second, the five primary starters in the 30 days since looks like this (ERA/FIP/xFIP) per Fangraphs:
Hutch - 5.16 / 4.39 / 3.56
Sanchez - 2.57 / 4.61 / 3.70
Dickey - 4.55 / 4.43 / 3.88
Buehrle - 2.35 / 3.78 / 4.33
Estrada - 4.78 -/3.86 / 4.51
Which looking down that last column, that's not embarrassing IMO. 27 game sample though it is.
Jays in the top 60, NO Yankees (53 fewer runs on the season than the
Jays) and ONE Royal (77 fewer) in the top 60 - there's 2 Royals and one
Yankee ranked higher by xFIP than Estrada
Again, sample size but...yeah, it's not nothing, right?
As Stoeten observed in his take on the subject, an acquired pitcher has to take a slot from one of those guys. The easy answer, of course, Estrada goes back to the bullpen, deserved or not. But as a mental exercise, what are the other options? The main point of Stoeten's comments was whether or not Drew Hutchinson has the cache to front a trade for an upgrade. Notwithstanding a lot of folks thought he was going to take a big step up this season and be a key piece of the rotation, the results have been mixed enough to make one worry about counting on him, and equally worried about trading him. One big factor is that Hutch's
home/road ERA split is insane(2.38 / 9.46). I don't know how to combine splits, but I'd
be interested in seeing how the xFIP lines up with that. I would not be
at all surprised to find that the scouts see more value in him than the
ERA suggests. And putting the guy with the most service time among the
young starters (and arguably the least pure-talent of the bunch) at the
front of a trade package would be not-crazy.
If I'm wrong, he DOES have that option if things go further south.
There is also, of course, the factor of how much money the Jays will be willing to take on. Here's a thought: what if you simply asked the team you deal with to take
Dickey/Thole back in the transaction? Let's say that you make a monster
deal for Cueto & Chapman at the mid-point of the season. Include
Dickey/Thole in the return package and the net increase in salary for
the Jays is 2.15 million.
Of course if you do that you can't
include Hutch, and god knows what it would cost in prospects to get
those two - but you get the idea.
Still, if Sanchez comes back strong and this trend holds, maybe you don't need a deal. I admit there's a little part of me that would like to see the in-house crew take them to a playoff position and beyond, just so I could play Nelson to those folks who insist the current crew isn't good enough to make it.