Yesterday we looked at the ZIPS projections for the Toronto Blue Jays hitters and the line-up looks to be pretty solid again if we can maintain solid health throughout the season. There is even some potential upside if one or more of Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind or Colby Rasmus has a breakout season.
The Jays should hit but the question going into the 2012 season is the state of the starting rotation.
Let’s see what ZIPS is projecting for the starting pitchers.
– Yikes, that is ugly and a hefty dose of reality that the Jays are going to need some serious overachievement from their starting rotation to have any hope this season.
– Overall, only two of our starters are expected to produce above a league average level – Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
– I think Romero’s numbers look doable and even a good chance he can best them. He won’t likely repeat his 2011 stats (2.92 ERA, 4.20 FIP) as he had some help with the BABIP but he did a great job of limiting hits when it mattered.
– A novel could be written about Brandon Morrow’s mediocre results versus his excellent peripherals. He has been dubbed the Ricky Nolasco of the American League. He has the potential to give the Jays a monster 200 IPs with a mid 3.00 ERA and strong strikeout numbers or what ZIPS projects.
– ZIPS does not think Henderson Alvarez will pitch quite as well as he did in his 60+ IP MLB debut last season but those would be sufficient numbers for a fifth starter, if we had two starters ahead of him we could depend on.
– Brett Cecil is being punished for his awful 2011 season and ZIPS isn’t that high on him for this coming season. I think he has a chance to beat those projections and can be a reliable number four starter.
– If Cecil was being punished for a poor 2011 campaign Kyle Drabek is being put to sleep. He was plain and simple terrible and given the ZIPS projection bias to more recent major league numbers they do not exactly paint a rosy picture for 2012. He was a top rated prospect and has shown glimpses of success in small doses so there is some room for upside surprise here but it would be hard to project anything but a below league average pitcher until shown otherwise.
For those curious here are the projections for the topic of yesterday’s post and possible trade target, he would look great slotted in as the number two starter in Toronto:
There is an outside chance one of the talented arms in our minor league system take the leap but given the likely strict innings cap put in place it would be hard to expect more than a 100 IPs or any meaningful season long contribution.
I’d say the likeliest candidate to make the team out of spring training (or shortly after) would be a guy like Deck McGuire. Though he isn’t the highest rated guy in the system he has solid stuff across the board and unlike most of the other highly touted young arms he was drafted out of college and thus probably closer to “big league” ready – at least in theory.
Obviously the Jays will need a break or two here with the absolute necessity for Morrow and Romero to stay completely healthy, Cecil to pitch as a league average lefty and breakout seasons for Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch, Henderson Alvarez or a yet to be determined minor league riser.
Stranger things have happened but unless the Jays make a move for a veteran starter the rotation could be a real Achilles heel. Luckily the Jays have seriously bolstered the bullpen with the addition of Sergio Santos (13.1 K/9!), LOOGY Darren Oliver and the return of Jason Frasor. Add those three to Casey Janssen, Carlos Villaneuva and Shawn Camp and the bullpen should be a force.