The devastating loss of Marcus Stroman for the season greatly increases the likelihood that top prospect Aaron Sanchez will be in the Blue Jays’ rotation rather than bullpen, as many had assumed, writes MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Marco Estrada will compete for the final two rotation spots behind R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison. Chisolm notes that if Sanchez does end up in the rotation, an already thin bullpen becomes even thinner, as Brett Cecil becomes the likely closer, with Aaron Loup the top setup option. Behind that duo, Estrada could relieve if he doesn’t win a starting role, and the club can also look to Steve Delabar, Wilton Lopez, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, Jeff Francis and prospect Miguel Castro. One thing no one should expect, Chisolm writes, is a significant trade. GM Alex Anthopoulos all but ruled that out, stating to reporters: “Those guys aren’t normally available in March, actually there might be one but I don’t know that we can afford that right now.” Presumably, Anthopoulos was referring to Cole Hamels.
Here are some more Blue Jays items as they plan for a season without their projected top starter…
- Writing for FOX Sports, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron opines that the Jays should give Estrada the first crack at the vacant rotation spot. Cameron notes that while Estrada was undeniably ineffective in 2014, he was a useful rotation piece in 2012-13, getting by with a skill-set similar to that of Jered Weaver; that is to say, he succeeded despite below-average velocity as a result of his ability to command the zone and induce a tremendous amount of infield flies. One shouldn’t expect Estrada to morph into Weaver, of course, but Cameron concludes that Estrada could be useful enough in the first half for the Blue Jays to see if the rest of their team lives up to its potential, and at that point, go rent an ace for the stretch run. Using Estrada in the rotation would also allow Sanchez to pitch at the back of the bullpen, giving the team a bit more relief depth.
- Castro and fellow right-hander Roberto Osuna, both 20, have a chance at cracking the team’s bullpen, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. While each is considered a long shot, the duo has impressed Blue Jays management with their power arms and advanced feel, particularly Castro. “If he’s really, really good this spring, there’s an outside shot he could be on the team simply because he’s advanced,” said manager John Gibbons, who noted that Castro is impressive not only due to power stuff but because he can throw strikes. Gibbons also touched on the fact that while there wasn’t necessarily a philosophical change in the organization last year, they acted more aggressively with young arms like Sanchez and Norris and could do so again to help fill out the bullpen.
- Since publishing that article yesterday, Nicholson-Smith has tweeted that Castro’s odds to make the club seem to be getting better with every passing day. It likely helps that Castro fired two scoreless innings today, yielding one hit and no walks with two strikeouts.