Last year, Toronto couldn’t have asked for more from their rotation, only needing seven starters all year long and riding that position of strength all the way into the post-season. 2017 has been a completely different story, having used 14 different starting pitchers, eight of whom have had five starts or less. Seeing as the Blue Jays will need to find two pitchers (three if Sanchez isn’t ready to go) to complete their rotation in 2018, here’s a look at the best possible candidates.
The Blue Jays have invested so much into converting Biagini back to a starter (much like he was prior to joining the Blue Jays via the Rule 5 draft) that they can’t turn back now. With up and comers like Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, and Dominic Leone establishing themselves with the Blue Jays, the bullpen is strong enough now that it doesn’t desperately require Biagini’s services much like it did in 2016. When he’s on his game and focused, Biagini has proven to be a solid starter. But the key word with Biagini is ‘focused’, something he needs to improve upon if he hopes to pitch deep into games on a more consistent basis.
Rowley has pitched wonderfully at every level he’s played at as he made his way up through Toronto’s farm system. Having gone 20-10 with a 2.67 ERA in the minor leagues, Rowley has yet to disappoint. The biggest unknown about his game is that he’s only ever made 32 starts in the minors. So if he doesn’t crack Toronto’s starting rotation next season, he could still prove to be a valuable piece in the bullpen or a depth starter they can always bring up from Triple A if the need arises.
Although Anderson has only made three starts so far for the Blue Jays, he’s nonetheless still looked awfully impressive. Anderson has been a big league starter since the age of 21 when he was a rookie in Oakland back in 2009. When healthy, he’s a more than capable starter, the biggest concern however is whether or not he can remain healthy. In nine seasons in the majors, Anderson has stayed healthy for two of them.
Much like Anderson, Koehler has a pretty lengthy resume as a quality big league starter. If he can get back to the pitcher he was from 2014-2016, he’d make for a solid 4th or 5th starter for the Blue Jays.
Estrada loves pitching for Toronto, the big question is whether he can bounce back from the off-year he’s had in 2017. When he’s on his game, Estrada can be one of the more dominant pitchers in the American League. When he’s off it however (like he’s been so often this season), hitters crush him. What Estrada also has going for him is that he’ll want to redeem himself after such a poor season, so if the Blue Jays are willing to take a chance re-signing him, they may be in for a pleasant surprise.
Unlike 2016 and 2017 when the Blue Jays knew exactly who their starting rotation would be comprised of prior to the season even beginning, 2018 will be a completely different story. With a decent number of candidates worthy of consideration for those final two precious spots in the rotation, it should create a healthy amount of competition come spring training. Exactly the sort of competition this ball club so sorely needs to get the competitive juices flowing early in the year and avoid another horrendous start like they did this year when they went 2-11 to begin the season.