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Examining the A.L. East Starting Rotations (Toronto)

Examining the A.L. East Starting Rotations (Toronto)

By Cary Greene

March 12, 2022


2nd Best Projected Rotation in AL East: BLUE JAYS

Projected WAR: 13

Cary’s Rank: 3rd (If the rotation stays healthy, possibly 2nd)

2021 ERA+: 113 (-.6 Below World Series Winners Avg ERA+ of 113.6)

Trade Value of MLB Starters: 73.2, Average Age: 27.3

Total Payroll for MLB Starters: $58.6 million / Avg Per SP: $5.9 million

AVG Yrs Team Control: 4.1

Trade Value of MiB Starters: 86.3 / Two Tier 2 Prospects / 2 Tier 3 Prospects

T2 – Nate Pearson, Triple-A / Jay Gunnar Hoglund, Rookie Ball

Staff Co-Aces: José Berríos (first) and Kevin Gausman (second)

How did the Blue Jays Build their Projected Rotation? (2 Free-Agents / 3 Trades / 3 Draft Picks)

● Traded with the Twins for José Berríos at the 2021 July Trade Deadline (in exchange for top prospects SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson)

● Signed Kevin Gausman this offseason to a 5-year $112 million contract

● Signed Hyun-Jin Ryu in 2020 to a 4-year $67.4 contract

● Drafted Alek Manoah in 2019, Round 1, pick #11

● Traded with the Dodgers for Ross Stripling in 2021 (in exchange for 1B Ryan Noda and RHP Kendall Williams

● Drafted Nate Pearson in 2017, Round 1, pick #28

● Drafted Zach Logue in 2015, Round 9

● Traded with Brewers for Bowden Francis in 2021 (also obtaining Trevor Richards for Rowdy Tellez)

Toronto has used Free Agency to pencil in two of it’s top three Starters – Kevin Gausman and Hyun-Jin Ryu. They also swung a key Deadline deal last season for José Berríos and they’ve made a few other minor deals while also using the Draft to produce a front-line starter (Alek Manoah).

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays starting rotation lost staff ace Robbie Ray this offseason, who put up a 3.9 WAR season last year, pitching to a 2.84 ERA/3.69 FIP stat line with 32.1% Strikeout Rate. Ray signed a five year deal with the Mariners for $119 million. The Blue Jays also lost Stephen Matz this offseason, who signed with the Cardinals for four years and $44 million.

However, Toronto may actually be better this year with a full season of Jose Berrios and the addition of Kevin Gausman, who the Blue Jays inked to a five year $110 million deal. The starting rotation is rounded out by Hyun-Jin Ryu and ace in the making Alek Manoah, who finished eighth in the American League Rookie of the Year vote that was won by Tampa’s Randy Arozarena. Toronto easily has the best starters one through four in the American League East. They also have legit Tier-2 prospect Nate Pearson potentially ready to join the rotation by mid-season so the outlook for the Blue Jays starting pitching is potentially excellent.

The Blue Jays made a big Deadline deal in 2019, sending Marcus Stroman to the Mets in exchange for the fourth-best and sixth-best pitching prospects in the Mets organization – Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. They later flipped Woods-Richardson to the Twins, along with Ryan in order to land two years of Jose Berrios, so that was a very key move that helped Toronto build a rotation capable of winning in the playoffs.

Kay is now working out of the Blue Jays Bullpen and his major issue since being acquired has been his control. Averaging 4.8 walks per nine in the big leagues, it has been even worse when coupled with an increase in the number of home runs he has allowed. In 2021, Kay allowed 7 long balls in only 33.2 innings of work for an average of 1.9 per nine innings of work.

Toronto may be in the market for a back of the rotation starter once the CBA gets figured out as they could use some depth to begin the season. The key to the Blue Jays starting pitching this year will be health. Depth is lacking and it probably needs to be addressed if Toronto is serious about winning the Division outright. Still, this is a very dangerous rotation in a short series and if they get hot at the right time of year, Toronto could be a dark horse World Series contender.


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