3. Charlie Montoyo must develop a plan to put Blue Jays’ pitchers at ease
Spring Training is getting underway, and it still feels as if the Blue Jays have one foot in and one foot out the door of the debate surrounding the use of openers.
On the one hand, with arms like Pearson, Ryu and Robbie Ray, the team has bona fide starters. On the other hand, there are a lot of players (Tyler Chatwood, Steven Matz, Ross Stripling, Trent Thornton, to name a few) that project more as openers or bridges to get to what is a stellar bullpen.
From minor tiffs like the disagreement Tanner Roark had with Montoyo last season, to franchise-altering malfeasances such as the decision that Kevin Cash made to pull Blake Snell in the World Series, the opener debate is coming to a head. Starting pitchers want to be starting pitchers, and managers increasingly want to adhere to what their analytics departments are telling them.
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The Jays are somewhere in-between. Given that they have seven pitchers that have been starters for most of their careers (Chatwood, Matz, Pearson, Ray, Ryu, Thornton and Roark), but only five rotation spots, how do they plan on managing the human relations side of things?
The staff just feels like a mess right now. This will hopefully get sorted out in Spring Training, but it seems to be a group of fringe starters, with nobody (save for Ryu) afforded any positional security.
With the mental gymnastics that pitching requires, something needs to be done to put starting pitcher’s minds at ease. A commitment to a unique plan for each pitcher needs to be made, so that every time they take the bump, they’re not looking over their shoulder (literally) for their manager to come and take the ball.
It’s alright to not pledge allegiance to one side of the opener debate, but a chasm is slowly forming between managers and their pitching staff. If the Blue Jays create a plan so that each pitcher is both informed and comfortable with their specific role, their minds can be freed to work on the task at hand: Bringing another ring to the City of Toronto.
What are your thoughts on the Blue Jays heading into the season? What needs to go right for them to be a World Series contender? Let us know in the comments below.