Posts Tagged ‘Starting Pitching’

Blue Jays ahead

Posted: October 25, 2015 by Sports Time Radio in baseball
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The Toronto Blue Jays season ended Friday night with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was Toronto’s first playoff appearance since 1993 and it ended the longest drought by any team of not making the playoffs. As the Blue Jays look to the 2016 season you have to wonder what they’ll look like.

Team President Paul Beeson had announced that he planned on retiring at the end of the 2015 season and Mark Shapiro has been hired to take his place. Shapiro has been a member of the Indians front office since 1991, serving as GM for the 2002-2010 seasons and then being promoted to president prior to the 2011 season. Even though the Blue Jays had a 93-69 season and won the American League East a new President may want his own people with him. Everything points to General Manager Alex Anthopoulos returning next season you can never be sure. That’s where the questions have to start for the Blue Jays.

There are some easy decision; at least they look easy. 1st Baseman/Designated Hitter Edwin Encarnacion has a $10 million dollar option for 2016 you’d expect the Blue Jays to pick up. Jose Bautista has an option for next season to at $14 million. I’m pretty sure we’ll see both these guys in the Toronto line up next season. Catcher  Dioner Navarro is a free agent as is shortstop Cliff Pennington; I don’t think either player will be back with the Blue Jays next season. The rest of the position players are either under contract or will go to arbitration. The position players aren’t too big of a deal for the Blue Jays to deal with, but the starting Rotation is another story. David Price is a free agent and you’d have to think he’s looking at $30 million a season from whoever he signs with. Toronto has said that they intend to try and resign Price, but really what else did you think they would say. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has an option for nest season at $12 million or the Blue Jays can buy him out for $1 million. Dickey is 41 and went 11-11 with an ERA of 3.91 in 33 starts. I have a feeling the Blue Jays buy him out at $1 million and try to bring him back at a lower salary. He may not be the same pitcher who won the 2012 Cy Young for the New York Mets, but he does eat innings and a staff could use a guy like that as a #3 or #4 starter. While Dickey has an option year for the Blue Jays to deal with Mark Buehrle and Marco Estrada are just free agents like Price. Buehrle went 15-8 with an ERA of 3.81 in 32 starts last season, but wasn’t used in the post season. Buerhle will turn 37 before the start of the 2016 season and he hasn’t said if he plans to retire or not. Estrada went 13-8 with an ERA of 3.13 over 28 starts. Estrada also made 6 appearances out of the bullpen.. Estrada is 32 and those 28 starts was the most he’s ever made in a season. Toronto does have a pitcher to build around even if they lost all of these starters. Marcus Stroman is 24 and won’t reach free agency until 2021. Stroman looked very good returning from a knee injury and may have been the Blue Jays best post season starter. You’d also have to think that Drew Hutchison figures into the 2016 rotation. Hutchison who’s 25 did have a ERA of  5.57 over 30 games; 28 of which where starts he did go 13-5. The Blue Jays could be set at closer for a while as 20 year old Roberto Osuna seems to have fit into that role. Another question may be will 22 year old Aaron Sanchez continue to set up for Osuna or will he be moved into the starting rotation. Sanchez did make 11 starts in 2015; so Toronto will have to decide where his future is. The main set up core of Liam Hendricks, Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup should be back in 2016, but 42 year old LaTroy Hawkins is retiring. While Hawkins struggled greatly in the post season he was a very reliable during the regular season. Trade deadline acquisition Mark Lowe will hit free agency; so Toronto will have t make a decision on him as well.

It should be interesting to watch the Blue Jays off season and see who they try to bring back, who they decide to let go and who they try to bring in. There are reports that Toronto has money to spend this off season, so maybe some of the bigger free agents end up north of the border.

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We move to the mound to take a look at each teams five man rotation for the coming season. Every team except the Cubs have a starter who’s going to miss some time and in one case the entire season. Let’s start in New York with pitching.

The New York Mets have some of the best young pitching in baseball, but they’ll have to find a way to replace Zack Wheeler who has a torn UCL ligament and is going to have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2015 season. After missing all of the 2014 because he had Tommy John surgery Matt Harvey is back and has looked good in his spring training outings. Harvey is set to be the ace of this staff for a long time as long as he’s healthy. Bartolo Colon looks like he’ll fit in as the #2 starter for the Mets. As a 41-year-old Colon went 15-13 last season, but more importantly he’ll give you innings. Colon has pitched over 200 innings 8 times in his career. Jacob deGrom won the National League Rookie of the Year award last season going 9-6 with and ERA of 2.69 in 22 starts last season. Being slotted as the #3 starter will help deGrom not have to carry the load for the Mets. Jon Niese will fill one of the last two spots in the rotation. Niese was 9-11 in 30 starts last season with an ERA of 3.40 in 30 starts. Dillon Gee will be the other pitcher in the rotation to start the season. Gee made 22 starts last season going 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA You’d have to figure that either Gee or Niese will be headed to the bullpen once the Mets are ready to turnover a spot in the rotation to top prospect Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard is 31-19 in 84 career minor league starts with an ERA of 3.25. With Wheeler out for the season and the Mets looking like they might contend for a playoff spot in 2015 you have to wonder how long they’ll leave Syndergaard in the minors.

It was the New York Yankees who won the Masahiro Tanaka derby last season and you wonder if they’re second guessing themselves for that right now. Tanaka put up great numbers for the Yankees last season. He was 13-5 with an ERA of 2.77 with 3 complete games and 1 shutout, but that was all in just 20 starts. Tanaka had arm issues last season, but passed on surgery to rehab it instead. He’s reportedly healthy and ready to go, but the Yankees will need to monitor him as the problem could come back. The Yankees even talked about going to a 6 man rotation to help Tanaka. He is undoubtably there #1 starter and the Yankees need him to stay healthy. C.C. Sabathia is another Yankees starter trying to bounce back from injury. Sabathia made just 8 starts last season covering 46 innings. The Yankees will need a return close to form from Sabathia if they’re going to compete in the American League East. It seems like I’m saying this about every Yankees starter, but Michael Pineda is also coming back from a season where ha made just 13 starts covering 76 1/3rd innings. To be fair Pineda did miss some starts due to a suspension, but the Yankees could use a healthy 30 plus start season from him. Now the 4th and 5th spots in the Yankees rotation might be a little up in the air. It was thought that Chris Capuano would fill one of those spots, but he’s likely to start the season on the disabled list with a strained right quad. Ivan Nova will also start the season on the disabled list. Nova is still recovering from the Tommy John surgery he had last season. It looks like former Miami Marlin Nathan Eovaldi will find a spot in the Yankees rotation. Eovaldi made 33 starts last season going 6-14 with an ERA of 4.37. Eovaldi will have to figure out how to miss some bats as he gave up 223 hits in 199 2/3rd innings last season. Will Adam Warren be the guy to take the 5th starters spot until Capuano comes back from injury. Warren made 69 relief appearances last season picking up 3 saves and posting an ERA of 2.97.

This turned out to be a pretty easy choice for me. I’ll go with the Mets starting rotation over the Yankees. Even if the Yankees had all 5 of their starters healthy; I’d still take the Mets.

The Cubs went out and paid Jon Lester $155 million dollars over 6 years to be the ace of their pitching staff. Lester has made 31 or more starts ever season since 2008. He has a career ERA of 3.58, but he should post a better number now that he’s pitching in the N.L. The Cubs where the only team willing to offer Lester a 6th year; so will see if their gamble pays off. Jake Arrieta had the best season of his 5 years career going 10-5 with an ERA of 2.53 in 25 starts with 1 complete game and 1 shutout. I’m sure the Cubs would like to see Arrieta get into that 30 start area, but keep his ERA around where it was last season. What a split season Jason Hammel had in 2014. Hammel was good with the Cubs 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA but he was bad after being traded to the Oakland A’s 2-6 with a 4.26 ERA Hammel is back in the Cubs rotation and they’re hoping he’ll just pitch like he did when he was with them last season. You would think Kyle Hendricks has a spot in this rotation, but all the reports out of Chicago is that the front office doesn’t like him. Hendricks went 7-2 in 13 starts with an ERA of 2.46. Those look like good numbers to me, but since Hendricks doesn’t hit 90 mph on the radar gun he’s not a front office favorite. With the demotion of top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards to Triple A Iowa yesterday (Thursday) it looks like the last spot in the rotation will go to Travis Wood. Wood made 31 starts last season going 8-13 with an ERA of 5.03. The ERA will have to come down if Wood is to keep his spot in the rotation as the Cubs have a couple of other options.

Chris Sale is the best left-handed pitcher in the AL and the 2nd best left hander in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw. Sale has a foot injury and will miss opening day, but should be back right after that. Sale was a Cy Young contender last season going 12-4 in 26 starts with an ERA of 2.17. Look for Sale to be in the Cy Young conversation again. The White Sox sent four players; Rangel Ravelo, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien to the Oakland A’s for Jeff Samardzja. Samardzija made 33 starts between the A’s and the Chicago Cubs posting an E.R.A. of 2.99 while going 7-13.  Samardzija lost a lot of close games with the Cubs last season; so if the White Sox can score fo him he might be able to turn his won-loss record around.  Jose Quintana is a very underrated starting pitcher. While his record was 9-11 his ERA was 3.32 in 32 starts last season. If the White Sox can get those numbers out of Quintana again with a better won-loss record they’ll be happy. John Danks should be #4 in this rotation. Danks was 11-11 with an ERA of 4.74 in 32 starts. Danks never turned into the starting pitcher a lot of experts thought he would, but he’s a solid guy to have in the 4th spot. It looks like Hector Noesi will start the season as the White Sox 5th starter. Noesi made 27 starts last season going 8-11 with an ERA of 4.39. Noesi will stay in the rotation until the White Sox decide if last season 1st round draft pick Carlos Rodon is ready for the majors. Rodon only has 9 games of minor league experience with 6 of those games being starts. He did make 3 starts at Triple A Charlotte last season and while he didn’t get a decision he did post an ERA of 3.00. He may be a factor in the White Sox rotation before the season is over.

These two rotations are close, but I’m going to go with the Cubs here. The 1 – 3 spots in the rotations are very, very close, but the 4th and 5th spots easily go the Cubs way and that was the deciding factor in me taking the Cubs here.

The Vs. series is off tomorrow for the regular How was your week blog to appear here. The Vs. Series comes back on Sunday with only one more comparison to do and that’s the bullpen.

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