Toronto Blue Jays: Time to move Joe Biagini back to the bullpen

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 6: Joe Biagini /

If the Toronto Blue Jays want to maximize Joe Biagini‘s impact as a pitcher, it should be in the bullpen and not as a starter.

With the Toronto Blue Jays‘ bullpen struggling and no return in sight for Roberto Osuna, the best way to provide some relief would be to end the experiment with Joe Biagini in the starting rotation.

This is not an uncommon opinion, as many have pointed out how ineffective the 27-year-old has been as a starter versus his experience as a reliever. The Blue Jays hoped that adding some depth in the rotation would allow Biagini to put some work in at triple-A, but once again injuries have forced him back into the MLB rotation.

That was until Sam Gaviglio came on the scene, jumping ahead of Biagini on the depth chart with three strong performances. The 28-year-old made his first start against the Oakland Athletics, going 5.1 innings and striking out six on 88 pitchers (61 for strikes).

On top of that, Gaviglio has put up strong numbers with the Buffalo Bisons, going 29.0 innings with an ERA of 1.86 and a WHIP of 0.86 in five starts. While this might not be a large sample size, it is well ahead of what Biagini has accomplished.

Leaving out the rough outings with the Blue Jays, in triple-A, Biagini has pitched 21.2 innings with an ERA of 4.57 and a WHIP of 1.25 in four starts. It doesn’t get any better during his time with the Blue Jays, as the Redwood, Calif., native has a 7.71 ERA over four starts.

Just how different are Biagini’s numbers as a starter in comparison to his time out of the bullpen? Here is a chart from which lays it all out.

Pitching Role — Game-Level
as Starter215.1186.0822220000106.212680721539083264811.5477.02.13
as Reliever54.5563.448601500299.1944338631189764211.2588.12.87

Provided by View Original Table

Clearly, Biagini is a different pitcher as a reliever and the longer this organization tries to push him to be a starter the more frustrated he’s going to get with each outing.

"“It’s frustrating for it to turn out that way. Starters are supposed to go deeper,” said Biagini after his last start against the Oakland Athletics. “I obviously always feel like I can stay out there longer. Today I felt that same way but I also don’t blame them to make that decision to manage the situation.”"

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Does this sound like a pitcher who’s confident in his ability to turn things around? He even told reporters that the constant juggling between the Blue Jays and triple-A has been challenging, and it’s tough to blame him.

He hasn’t been put in a position where he has been comfortable and the Blue Jays haven’t been firing on all cylinders. His inability to go deep into games is what has been most concerning, because it puts even more stress on the bullpen when he pitches.

This is what he told Sportsnet‘s Arden Zwelling about the challenge he has faced with transitioning from a long reliever to a starter.

"“As much as I would always like to do just as well as anybody could possibly do, it was a really good opportunity for me to learn that. And [the Blue Jays] have been nothing but fair to me. I can’t say that some of the things that I wasn’t doing well was a result of changing my role. It was honestly a good challenge and a good opportunity for me to learn a lot. The timing of it all coming together takes more or less time for different people. Just like anything, really. So, I feel nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to get to do it.”"

As much as Biagini is probably grateful to get the chance to grow and try to break out as a starting pitcher, there comes a time where it no longer makes sense to continue. That time has come and if the Blue Jays want to get the most out of him, it will be from the bullpen.

Doing this will also give John Gibbons better options to consider late in a game. Gibbons can roll Biagini out for a couple of innings, which is what the Toronto Blue Jays did back in 2016 to good effect.

Next: Marco Estrada frustrated over slump

What do you think about moving Biagini back to the bullpen? Should he be given more time to work things out, or should the Toronto Blue Jays forget about stretching him out as a starter?