All winter we’ve been hearing about how the Blue Jays are leaning towards Joe Biagini being their 5th starter.
Despite everything the Blue Jays have said about letting Biagini start, the idea of giving a relatively unproven player this sort of hefty responsibility doesn’t exactly fit the pattern Toronto has laid out with respect to how they’ve been going about building their team. Ever since Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took over in 2015, Toronto’s been all about players with experience, and haven’t appeared all too eager to roll the dice on players without significant playing time in the big leagues.
I thought for certain Toronto would at least give Teoscar Hernandez a chance to start in right field to begin the season. Instead, the front office pulled a rabbit out of their hat and surprised everyone by going out and trading for Randal Grichuk. In addition to Grichuk, the signing of Curtis Granderson pretty much now guarantees Hernandez will begin the year down in Buffalo.
This infatuation with experienced players is exactly why I believe Toronto will go out and sign one of the remaining free agent starting pitchers. The big question is who?
The Blue Jays aren’t asking for a lot from their 5th starter…just someone who can keep them in ball games and preferably be durable. Kind of like what R.A. Dickey used to give the Blue Jays. Someone who can give you plenty of innings and hopefully keep their ERA somewhere around 4.00.
The mistake the Blue Jays made last year when it came to starting pitching, was that beyond Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, and Francisco Liriano, they really had no other legit big league starters. So even if just one of those five pitchers made a trip to the disabled list, it forced Toronto to pull Biagini out of the bullpen and plug him into the rotation. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, and this is what happens when you don’t have nearly enough in reserve. Is that when Sanchez, Happ, and Liriano were all out with injury at the same time, it exposed maybe the weakest area of the Blue Jays as a franchise. Their lack of starting pitching depth.
When it comes to their starting rotation, Toronto can pretty much go one of two routes this season. They can do as they did last year, and when someone gets injured they go out and acquire some journeyman minor leaguer and pray to the heavens he doesn’t get shelled. Or, they can get proactive and sign one of Jaime Garcia, Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Edinson Volquez, or even R.A. Dickey (yeah I said it) to a 1-year contract, and get 30 starts, 175 innings, and a pitcher who’s going to give them a 50% chance of winning whenever they pitch.