Work to be done with Starting Rotation
What an adventure 2019 was when it came to starting pitching. A total of seven pitchers made 10+ starts for the Jays last season. Two of them were Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, who aren’t even with the team anymore.
The starting rotation was probably the front office’s biggest concern this past off-season, and they certainly addressed it. Signing free agents Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark, and acquiring Chase Anderson in a trade. After Nate Pearson was officially called up to the main roster early in the season, it appeared that the starting five was set.
Ryu, Pearson, Shoemaker, Anderson, and Roark. Injuries quickly put a stop to that plan though, as Pearson went down with a flexor strain after making just four starts. Shoemaker, who missed the majority of last season due to a torn ACL; landed on the IL last weekend with a lat strain.
To make matters even worse, Trent Thornton (who actually started the most games for the team last season and logged the most innings) just went on the IL earlier this week with elbow inflammation. Talk about bad timing.
All things considered, the starting rotation has been okay. It’s hard to really give a fair grade given all of the injuries, but we’ll try. Ryu has pretty much been exactly as advertised, and has provided a nice anchor at the top of the Blue Jays rotation.
To expect him to put up another sub 2.50 ERA season like he did last year with the Dodgers would be silly with the move to the AL East. But through his first six starts, Ryu has a 3.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts through 37 innings pitched. That’s pretty much where the consistency stops though.
Pearson didn’t look great before he got injured, but chalk that up to being a rookie and still having time to figure things out. Shoemaker looked decent before getting injured and has potential to be a solid #2 or #3 pitcher on this team if he can just stay healthy. Roark has looked inconsistent, pitching a couple of really good games as well as some really bad ones.
You have a good idea what you’re going to get from him by season’s end, and that’s an ERA in the mid 4’s and hopefully, someone who can continue to eat up innings. Anderson has only started four games so far and has only gone five innings once. He started the season on the IL with an oblique strain and should slowly start to pitch deeper into ball games as the season progresses.
Here’s a look at where the Jays rank in some key starting pitching categories:
ERA: 4.58 (16th)
WHIP: 1.37 (21st)
K/9: 8.45 (14th)
BB/9: 3.65 (23rd)
HR/9: 1.65 (23rd)
Opponent batting average: .251 (T-18th)
It’s obvious that the Blue Jays need some starting pitching help, especially if Pearson and Shoemaker miss significant time due to their injuries. The acquisition of Walker is a start and definitely a step in the right direction.