Friday, March 22, 2013

MAKING THE PITCH: Toronto Blue Jays

Will R.A. Dickey repeat his Cy Young performance for the Blue Jays?
(photo courtesy of Mike McCann's Field of Fotos)



Felipe M

We take a look at the projected starting rotations and closer situations of every MLB team.  Of course, this will come from a fantasy perspective.  All cited stats are based on 2013 projections.  


So how about those Toronto Blue Jays?

PROBABLE STARTING ROTATION

  1. R.A. Dickey
    • Good: All of his projected stats are incredibly impressive.  
    • Bad: He's been struggling this spring, most notably a rough outing versus Team Mexico in the WBC. And knuckleballers can be highly unpredictable.  Will be pitching in shorter outfields now that he will be playing in AL EAST and their short ballparks.
  2. Brandon Morrow
    • Good: K/9 of 8.90 is the main reason why the Blue Jays continue to give him a chance to pitch as a starter for their team.
    • Bad: 3.15 BB/9 is a tad high and elevates his WHIP to 1.25.  
  3. Mark Buehrle
    • Good: Decent K/BB of 2.70 is what makes Buehrle a serviceable fantasy option.
    • Bad: Low strikeouts is a major turnoff.  Buehrle's K/9 of 5.09 is slightly higher than Clayton Richard's.  He can also be extremely hittable (9.70 H/9) as he highly depends on pitching to contact.  His WHIP of 1.29 also makes him a risky pick.
  4. Josh Johnson
    • Good: Not as high of K/9 like teammate Morrow's, but still attractive at 8.03.  HR/9 of 0.60 makes Johnson an intriguing selection for your pitching staff.  Even WHIP of 1.19 makes him a borderline, 2nd tier pitcher.  He's only a few points off potential 1st Tier pitcher, Adam Wainwright
    • Bad: Injury history makes Johnson a high risk type of player enterig the 2013 season.  BB/9 of 2.92 is not too high, but it is high enough to lower his K/BB to 2.75.  Edwin Jackson also has an identical K/BB.  
  5. Ricky Romero
    • Good: 6.90 K/9 is adequate in fantasy baseball.  Tampa Rays' pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, has a similar K/9.  He also won't hurt himself with giving up the long ball (HR/9 of 1.01).  He's all but locked up the 5th spot for 2013.
    • Bad: Romero has been roughed up this spring.  Management has gone as far as to modify his delivery, with very little positive results.  His projections are a wreck: 1.62 K/BB, 4.25 BB/9, 1.46 WHIP.
CLOSER
  1. Casey Janssen
    • Good: 4.64 K/BB makes him a legit closer option (higher K/BB than Jason Motte). 
    • Bad: Relatively low K/9 of 9.44 drops his stock considerably.  Although he's listed as the Jays' #1 option for saves, he's currently recovering from shoulder surgery and the Jays are not sure if he will be ready for the start of the season.
FANTASY ADVICE

As far as Janssen goes, he proved to be a reliable closer, but health concerns and numbers that suggest his lack of dominance in the 9th inning makes him a risk in 2013.  Breathing down his neck is Sergio Santos, himself attempting to come back from shoulder inflammation.  Santos proved to be a decent closer in 2011, but struggled with walks.  I personally would like to avoid this messy situation, but for those of you who need saves, I would roll the dice with Janssen and handcuff him with a player like Santos to minimize the risk.

The Blue Jays rotation is an interesting one as each pitcher brings something different every 5th game.  As bad as Romero might be this season, the only reason he's listed here is because he is a lock to finish the spring as the team's 5th starter, despite his shaky performance so far, and because he was, at one point, supposed to be the future ace of this team.  Should be interesting to see if he can rebound, but so far, it's not looking too promising.  In the meantime, J.A. Happ is licking his chops at a chance to take over if the Jays lose patience with him.  

If Buehrle becomes available, I would still avoid him.  An aging, pitch-to-contact pitcher is just not the person I'm looking for to fill out my 7-man rotation.  I understand that fantasy owners like him because of his durability and control, but he's just not my type of pitcher.

Dickey is also an enigma because I just don't trust knuckleballers.  They can be unhittable in one start, and get plastered in the next one.  Dickey did end up the best pitcher in the NL last season as he was rewarded with the Cy Young Award, and his projections are impressive, but I prefer to have a pitcher with more consistency and one that doesn't solely depend on a gimmick to get through a season.  At most, Dickey would be my 4th best pitcher on my team.  Nevertheless, he will be picked to be a top-tier pitcher on many fantasy teams.

Josh Johnson might end up being a real steal in 2013.  He kind of petered out at the end of 2012 and could be very inconsistent, but had a decent 2012 as he was able to dominate hitters, but was more unlucky than anything last season.  With better run support, he can still earn many wins and his K/9 might rise once again.  

If Morrow can continue to limit his walks, Morrow can see himself move up the rankings in 2013.  Like Johnson, with better run support, Morrow can exceed expectations.

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