The Blue Jays’ 2011 Rotation

Four years ago, the Blue Jays rotation was a recognizable bunch. Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Ted Lilly headlined a talented, established group of starters. Now, the talent is there, but the pitchers are less experienced. And Shaun Marcum, who made his first big league start on that 2006 team, likes that he and his 2010 rotation-mates are surprising some people around the league.

“It’s good, because I’ve always been underrated,” Marcum told MLBTR. “So it’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I’ve been undersized; I haven’t been strong; everybody’s had something to knock on me, so to be underrated means to fly under the radar and sneak up on people.”

That's just what the Blue Jays are doing, but Marcum knows he, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil are not exactly a secret.

“I think people kind of know who we are right now,” Marcum said. “People give us credit [and acknowledge] Brandon, Brett and Ricky, so the names are out there."

The numbers are there, too. Marcum returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.61 ERA this season and toss a one-hitter, thanks to one of the league's best change-ups. Morrow, who tossed a one-hitter of his own, leads the American League with 10.9 K/9, more than any qualified starter since 2007 (Erik Bedard). Meanwhile, Romero (3.54 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9) and Cecil (3.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9) have impressed in their sophomore seasons. The group has improved this year and Marcum says we can expect similar adjustments from the rotation in 2011.

“It’s young, gaining more experience each and every time out, getting better each and every time out,” Marcum said. “Especially Brandon, Brett and Ricky, they’ve developed into three great pitchers and they’re going to be main guys in this rotation for years to come.”

Marcum, Romero, Cecil and Morrow are under team control through 2012 or longer, but they won’t be enough. GM Alex Anthopoulos will need to round out his rotation with at least one starter next year and potentially more (he can't count on the same remarkable health Blue Jays starters have shown in 2010).

Top prospect Zach Stewart has showed promise in the minor leagues, and so has Brad Mills. Stewart, who is starting again, posted a 3.71 ERA with 7.7 K/9 in AA. Mills, 25, has struggled in the majors, but has posted solid numbers at Triple A Las Vegas, a hitter-friendly environment. Plus, Marc Rzepczynski, Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond and Shawn Hill all have big league experience as starters. On the depth chart right beside them is Kyle Drabek, the 2010 Eastern League pitcher of the year. That distinction, which came after a season in which Drabek posted a 2.89 ERA and threw a no-hitter, caught Marcum’s attention.

“And he’s not the only one," Marcum said. "There’s other pitchers down [in the minor leagues], too. For him to go out and have the year that he had is good for him and good for this organization and hopefully we can get him up here soon to help out.”

Drabek is one of many internal options the Blue Jays have, so it would be a surprise to see the team pursue free agent starters this winter. The organization has the depth to fill its rotation from within and Blue Jays starters have the ability to establish themselves as one of the tougher groups in the league.


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71 Comments on "The Blue Jays’ 2011 Rotation"


firstpitchstrike
5 years 2 days ago

You have no idea how good it feels to be a Jays fan. <3

5 years 2 days ago

probably not as good as it feels for fans of playoff teams…

HerbertAnchovy
5 years 2 days ago

Please don’t reply to posts again if all you’re going to spew is venomous trash.

Ferrariman
5 years 2 days ago

i like the jays chances next year. a lot. Their gonna have to upgrade/keep their bullpen though and maybe extend Bautista

start_wearing_purple
5 years 2 days ago

People have been saying that for years, especially after the Burnett and Ryan signings. The Jays still have to contend with a yanks team that could still buy every talented FA, a still young and powerful Rays team, and despite injuries this year the Red Sox still will have a great team next year. So, I’ll boil it down to: I’ll believe it when I see it.

HerbertAnchovy
5 years 2 days ago

Some of the things you say are true, but if you’re a fan (which I’m guessing you’re not) you’ve got to have faith. I was at the game on Saturday, and the buzz going on at the games is unlike anything I’ve seen in years.

No one thought the Rays were going anywhere in 2008, but look what happened. Baseball is a game that is too hard to predict.

start_wearing_purple
5 years 2 days ago

I’m a Red Sox fan and was long before 2004, trust me when I say I understand faith.But you’re exactly right about baseball being too hard to predict. Sure thing prospects can fizzle first day in the majors. Guys who lead the league home runs one year can see their numbers drop. Random freak injuries happen. Relief pitchers suddenly forget how to pitch.Yeah the Jays are good on paper, move them to any other division in the majors and they could be perenial contenders. But remember, many people (outside of Boston and New York) would still call the Red Sox and yanks farm systems some of the top in the majors. Rays probably have the top farm in the majors. Rays even without Crawford next year could probably still be a major threat. All I’m saying is it’s the toughest division in baseball. I’ll believe the Jays can hold their own in the AL East when I see it.

Sniderlover
5 years 2 days ago

Can’t say I disagree. AL East is just way too tough and I’ll believe it when I see Jays become contender. I see potential of them becoming contender for years in the future but it’s too soon to say. I don’t really expect them to contend by next year but I fully expect them to start contending by 2012 or 2013 at the latest.

5 years 2 days ago

the fact you didn’t specify a playoff team means you’re probably an Oriole fan.

Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox will be eating our dust for years to come.

start_wearing_purple
5 years 2 days ago

Haven’t Jays fans been saying that for more than a decade?

moonraker45
5 years 2 days ago

weren’t red sox fans saying it for more than 10 decades before 04?

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

idk I haven’t been around for 100 years. Please tell me grandpa.

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
5 years 1 day ago

this

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

your jokes are pathetic and lame. Please try harder.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Why are you so angry with me? You’re the one who started this.

Sleepykarl
5 years 2 days ago

How can you honestly believe that? All three teams have much better
current teams and most likely will have higher rated minor league teams.

Ferrariman
5 years 1 day ago

no, i sincerely doubt the yankees have a higher minor league organization than the jays this coming season.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Yankees farm is pretty heavily stacked at the lower levels. People have them over the Red Sox for next season (which I disagree with but nonetheless) and the Red Sox farm is better than the Jays.

Sleepykarl
5 years 15 hours ago

It’s not just lower levels, their AA staff is stacked with the reemergence of Brackman, Betances and lil 19 year old ManBan. A guy just scouted the last two in their last Tampa starts and said he would rather have either one over Casey Kelly (whom he scouted earlier).

Sleepykarl
5 years 15 hours ago

BA and BP guys have the Yankees in the top 10. Don’t think the Jays are gonna be that high.

5 years 1 day ago

Very dangerous team…I wouldn’t want to play them late in the year while trying to vie for a division or wild-card spot….They’re going to be good next year if they get another bat or two….The hard part (pitching) is already there so I see them really causing alot of problems for the Sox, Yankees and Rays (who will take a little downturn after losing Pena and Crawford)

5 years 2 days ago

1) Morrow 2) Romero 3) Marcum 4) Cecil 5) Drabek with Stewart and Litsch in the wings if one of them gets hurt. I’m not high on Rzep as a starter, he’d fill the middle relief role nicely (NON tender TALLET already!). Richmond is thirty years old and Hill is kind of a nothing guy. I really hope Drabek gets a chance to break camp with the team; there really is no point in him going to Las Vegas.

Sniderlover
5 years 2 days ago

I think contract with Las Vegas contract is up so it is very much possible Drabek may start at Triple A next season. They are not going to try to rush him in especially when there is already a good group together. I think both Stewart and Drabek start in Triple A unless they completely rip it up in spring training. It’ll help since neither will be pitching in Las Vegas. I still think you could let Litsch and Zep battle out for that 5th spot at spring training. Zep has had an off-season but as you can see he is making adjustments with his delivery and it may take time to get consistent. He’s shown potential to be a major league starter but he has issues with consistency as it showed in his last start. He was dominating until the 6th inning where he started walking guys all over and totally lost the strike zone. Richmond – hell no. Hill – I don’t see it happening. One of Litsch or Zep should be in the pen (preferably Litsch). I’d like to see Zep build up his trade value and then may trade him at the deadline and possibly call-up Stewart or Drabek if they are doing well in Triple A.

I love our rotation and the way it’s headed. I think they should lock up Marcum to a 3-year contract with a couple of club options. I love his leadership.

SyC
5 years 1 day ago

Dosent matter where our AAA is next year. If Drabek does not make the team out of ST he will go there. West coast teams have developed pitchers no problem for decades in the PCL.

5 years 2 days ago

playoffs!!

5 years 2 days ago

I’m pretty sure you’re going to see Walton really work with Drabek next season.
I think Stewart might end up being our surprise closer next year, unless by some miracle Dustin McGowan comes back to 100% health and takes over that role.

We have enough depth to build a bullpen even if we lose Gregg, Downs, Frasor.

Sniderlover
5 years 2 days ago

McGowan might need quite a bit of time in the minors (assuming he even gets signed). His velocity is down and he’s going to need some time to re-harness his control and gain his velocity back.

5 years 2 days ago

I’ve turned the page on McGowan. In my mind he’s not even a contender to pitch in the majors again. I think it’s just one of those unfortunate things that sometimes happen.

5 years 2 days ago

I turned that page after his first setback from his surgery (when he stopped throwing, and then when he hurt his knee).

It feels good.

grant77
5 years 2 days ago

What on earth do you mean by ‘remarkable health’ Ben? To start the season, 3 of our starters were on the DL in Litsch, Richmond, and Rzepczynski. Tallet filled in and he got hurt as well. Marcum was out for a while midseason, Morrow is going to be shut down, McGowan is still out, Litsch had season ending surgery…

Three opening day starters have been healthy all year, Cecil came up and has been great, but it’s possibly the most injury riddled rotation in the league.

moonraker45
5 years 2 days ago

Have you ever watched baseball ever??? Just wondering because your post sounds like you listen to mike wilner’s call ins every night..
Out of the 3 guys you mentioned that started the season on the DL, litsch had tj surgery LAST year and was not expected to start the year, same with Richmond, and rzep hurt his hand with a come back to the mound. But out of all 3 of those guys, none were expected to make the opening day rotation.

Morrow is being shut down for innings limitations, not because he’s unhealthy, he’s just never pitched this much before. . The jays have had 4 solid starters pretty much the entire year, they aren’t even close to having the most injury riddled rotation in the league, this isn’t 2008 buddy.

grant77
5 years 2 days ago

Lol, what a pathetic attempt.

1. No less than two of those 3 were expected to make the rotation if healthy. Rzep actually had a job locked up before getting hurt.
2. You ignored half of the injuries I mentioned, only choosing to focus on a couple of ones you could remotely question.
3. Litsch had another unrelated surgery this year.

Bottom line is, the Jays have had 3 successful major league starters out for all or most of the year (Litsch, McGowan, Richmond) and injuries to 3 of their other starters (Marcum, Tallet, Rzep). Name me another team that equals that, please. A team isn’t healthy because they have incredible depth, 3 good starters is 3 good starters, understand that before you respond.

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
5 years 2 days ago

You mention Tallet’s injury like its a bad thing

grant77
5 years 2 days ago

Could have been. He had a fairly long history of being a good pitcher before the injury and looks like he’s pitching hurt.

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
5 years 1 day ago

whoops, i pressed the like by accident, ignore that
Tallet has a history of being a fairly good RELIEF pitcher, until the Jays F-ed him up into a starter. Now he cant do anything right. He was pretty good 06-08. Now he just sucks

Bluejaysnation
5 years 2 days ago

Litsch,Tallet ,Richmond all have no value to the Jays rotation. And Zep was suppose to try for their 5th spot. I think what he was trying to say is that theyve been lucky this year to get 4 solid starters and not have any of them injured. Even without a solid 5th starter all year the rotation did really well to avoid injuries and perform above their expectations.

grant77
5 years 2 days ago

I suppose…but losing 3 starters that have value to most other rotations is not meaningless and does not make the Jays one of the luckier teams in terms of health, they’ve certainly lost more pitching man games than most teams, if not all.

Bluejaysnation
5 years 2 days ago

I think you value some of their lower level pitchers more than most people.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

Next he’s going to say the jays didn’t make the playoffs because we put eveland on waivers and shawn hill was injured lol. some people just don’t get it.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

You’re a pathetic attempt…. Jays starting rotation this yearMarcum (25 starts, 157 Innings)Romero (26 starts, 172 Innings)Cecil (23 starts, 146 Innings)Morrow (25 starts, 143 Innings)Oh dear lord how did the jays ever survive with such inconsistency and injuries to their starting rotation.. Like are you serious at all?? You were probably one of those guys who jumped on the every jays pitcher gets injured bandwagon from a few years ago and still havent let it go.In what world do you live in where you thought rzepchynski had a job locked up? Tallet was to be a spot starter/innings eater in between romero and marcum, he sucked and got hurt, probably the best thing that could have happened to the teamAnd Litsch didn’t get hurt this year, he was still rehabbing thats why he didnt start the year, yes then they forced him in to the hip surgery he needed, but with the way he was pitching he wasn’t any more useful then rzepchynski or tallet has been as a 5th starter anyways. And why do you keep mentioning richmond? like Rzep, Tallet, Litsch all have no business in the rotation yet you keep mentioning it like how did we survive with out them? Just because they are hurt doesn’t mean they would have played anyways. The only injured pitcher who would have actually been useful and made the rotation if healthy would have been mcgowan, who people should take out of their minds anyways because who knows if he will ever get back…So yes a whopping 1 significant injury to the rotation, how ever did the jays survive. tool.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Like are you serious at all??
———–
For some reason as I read that in my head it became a teenage girl’s angry voice and it made it hilarious.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

so the voice in your head is a teenage girls??? good to know

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Only when I see a guy write any sentence with “like” and “seriously” in and being used in the right context. Which should be a sin.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

get a life troll

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Seriously? Anyone who sees me chat here knows I add a lot to conversations and know what I’m talking about (99% of the time). To call me troll is a joke. Don’t get your panties in a bunch because grant77 got you mad

Edit: Although I do mess with people. And for the record I was not saying your post was hilarious. I thought it was funny how I read it that way. Your post was fine and a lot more researched that Grant77s but your snide remark was what got me annoyed.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

no body cares.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

apparently you do since you took the time to reply. Not sure why you are so mad with me. Not like I dislike you.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

And I’m pretty sure you’re trolling me. You keep trying to start dumb arguments with me.

SyC
5 years 1 day ago

Richmond was never successful because he dident put the time in to be

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

and because he lacked natural skill.

SyC
5 years 1 day ago

he pitched good for us when he was up. Its just he has never had the chance to do it full time. I’d rather see him then Scrabble (Zep)

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

i doubt we will see any of them start for the jays next year. I’m guessing rzep will be moved to the pen, and richmond either in the pen (but he cant get out lefties) so he might end up being cut… Realistically with romero, cecil, morrow, marcum pretty much guaranteed a spot. We essentially have 1 spot for 1 of drabek, stewart, hill, litsch, rzepchynski, richmond. Rzep might be a nice addition to the pen.

johnsmith4
4 years 11 months ago

I always thought Richmond and Tallet (as a starter) were used as cannon fodder to protect the young (and promising) arms. It appeared to me, that the Jays decided in 2009 if they needed to abuse/overuse an arm, it will Richmond and Tallet in order to protect the good arms. After all, these two are 30+ in age.

Dev0
5 years 2 days ago

I’ve always said the AL East is harder to win then the world series

gm_darkplace
5 years 1 day ago

Well, technically any division is. 162 regular season games vs. 19 postseason games (max). But I get your point.

Hoyce14
5 years 2 days ago

I think people around the majors are finally starting to notice the Jays and as a fan myself I love the direction this team is going and I am looking forward to the next few years I think by 2012 or 2013 they will take at least the wildcard.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

I’ll buy it when I see it sorry. I remember when Halladay, McGowen, Burnett, ect. were the Jays of the future a few years ago and a popular sleeper team and while they had a good year in 05′ (or 06′ I forget) they haven’t done much since and the division has only gotten tougher. There are now 3 hurdles they have to jump.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

Within a year, i dont think anyone will be considering the red sox a hurdle. Not like tampa or nyy have considered them to be this year anyways

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

Yeah those Sox are terrible. Not like they have the ability to get crawford if they feel, have iglesius maybe 2 years out (And not like Scutaro is bad), Pedroia, Youk, Lester, Buchholz, Kelly maybe 2-3 seasons away, Kalish in 1 season when Drew leaves. This is hardly a team that will go away and the only contracts that they are tied up in is Beckett and Lackey, who are their 3-4 guys. You might have a case for the Yankees 5 years down the road when they age but the Sox are younger, have shorter contracts, and good prospects in the minors. And I’m sorry I got you mad with the Grandpa post. And you say the Sox haven’t been a hurdle yet what is the Jays record against them this season? If you can’t be a non hurdle how do you think you will take NY or the Rays

alxn
5 years 1 day ago

They have the 2nd highest payroll in the league. As long as that continues they will always be a hurdle.

moonraker45
5 years 1 day ago

Out of the top 5 teams in terms of spending, only one (yankees) are leading their division and only one (phillies) are leading the wild card… The other 3, sox, cubs, mets do spend, but money cant always buy you wins. Especially when they have longterm money to beckett and lackey. They are just lucky Buchholz has progressed into an elite pitcher, because with him even being just average this rotation which many thought to be the leagues best, would be in big trouble

johnsmith4
4 years 11 months ago

I see your point on the deja vu with 2006. The problem with the 2006 team was the 3, 4, 5 hitters did not compare with Boston and New York. In short, the 2006 team lacked the .500+ slugging percentages in those batting slots. The same can almost be said now. However, that can change with Jose Bautista sustaining his performance and the emergence of Travis Snider. Otherwise, it is 2006 all over again.

5 years 1 day ago

very well run organization and who knows maybe as the Yankees get older and free agents decrease due to teams buying out free agent and arbitration years the Rays and Jays become the future of baseball

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

In order to become the future you have to be able to sign your players. Until then the Rays become the Marlins. Who, while good year in and year out, are not the futures of baseball.

sadp
5 years 1 day ago

Well, they did just sign Romero to a $30 million contract, I’d consider that “signing your players”.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

My comment was directly relating to the Rays, not the Jays

Dev0
5 years 1 day ago

Yeah next year the rays might be on the way down, likely not resigning Pena and Crawford. Those 2 are not small loses.

jwredsox
5 years 1 day ago

They still have a good pitching staff and could be an 80-85 win team.

SyC
5 years 1 day ago

they have a Crawford clone (Desmond Jenings) ready to take his place next year.

johnsmith4
4 years 11 months ago

Yep…the Rays seem to have a good pipeline of talent. However, they might start getting a little thin in the heart of the order.

jwredsox
5 years 2 days ago

Another 80+ win team would come at expense of every team.