Do Blue Jays have Starting Pitching to Win it All?

There’s still lots of baseball left to be played, but Jays From the Couch asks, Do Blue Jays have Starting Pitching to Win it All?

 

 

In 2015 the Toronto Blue Jays finally snapped the longest playoff drought in major leagues. They even managed to beat the Texas Rangers in an emotion packed first round. Unfortunately, a Brett Cecil injury, an over reliance on David Price, and facing a superior Kansas City squad ended the Blue Jays first World Series appearance since 1994.

 

But you know all of this already.

 

For a team to find success in October, a team must have one or two dominant starters, a third and maybe a 4th feared starter, a good bullpen, and timely hitting. If you can’t get timely hitting, then your starters need to be on top of their game.

 

This writer feels Toronto have the horses to win the American League East, but I’m not too sure they have the horses to win the World Series. I know, I know. You first need to get to the dance….Anything can happen in a 5 and 7 game series…….blah blah blah. I got it.

 

But how do you feel about the Blue Jays in a one game playoff? How does Toronto match up against Texas or Boston or whichever team makes the playoffs in 2016?

Let’s look at the Top 10 teams starting pitching based on WAR, then look at the following statistical categories: xFIP, BABIP, SIERA, and K-BB%.

TeamWARxFIPBABIPSIERAK-BB%
Mets15.43.62.3183.8316.0
Nationals14.43.77.2853.7917.4
Cubs13.23.78.2483.8815.9
Dodgers12.43.65.2973.7317.5
Blue Jays11.94.00.2734.1513.1
Cardinals10.63.94.3094.1411.9
Indians10.43,89.2823.9615.4
Phillies10.24.06.3064.0914.7
Giants10.24.11.2844.1014.6
Yankees10.13.87.3023.9614.8

 

As luck would have it, all division leading teams appear in the table above. The New York Mets, the team with highest WAR, currently are 10 games back of the National East leading Washington Nationals. This is not what I wanted to see, but the Mets are followed by a team who, if the season ended today, would win their division.

 

The real surprise on this table are the New York Yankees. Damn Yankees. Can’t seem to keep them down. The surprise exclusions from this table being the AL West leading Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox, currently tied for 1st in the ALE. All three of these teams have dealt with inconsistent starter or injuries to their rotations.

 

Of the teams currently leading their division, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs own the pitching staffs that scare me the most. Obviously, the New York Mets have the strongest overall staff. As a Blue Jays fan, I do not relish the idea of facing the Indians in a 5 game series.

 

This brings us to the question at hand: Do the Toronto Blue Jays have the starting pitching to go all the way to the World Series?

Blue Jays StartersxFIPBABIPSIERAK-BB%
Marco Estrada4.49.2174.2214.5
JA Happ4.01.2704.1214.1
Marcus Stroman3.40.3093.5513.6
Aaron Sanchez3.53.2783.7613.2
RA Dickey4.73.2714.798.4
Francisco Liriano 4.53.3114.679.0

 

Let’s start off with some assumptions.

  1.  R.A. Dickey, the Blue Jays 5th starter, is either not on the playoff roster or is relegated to a bullpen role once the playoff start.
  2. Toronto is able to a.) manage Aaron Sanchez innings, and b.) keep him sharp.
  3. J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman remain healthy.

 

If Sanchez ends up in the bullpen, then Francisco Liriano would likely slide in as the teams 4th starter. Since joining the Blue Jays, Liriano owns a 4.22 xFIP and has pitched to a 0.2WAR. If he can maintain this level of production, I would not feel comfortable handing him the ball in the playoffs. Let’s hope that Sanchez is still the rotation.

 

Looking at the table above, the Blue Jays pitching rotation owns the 5th best WAR, the 9th best xFIP, 2nd best BABIP, the 10th best SIERA, and 9th best K-BB%. Add them up and the Blue Jays have 35 points. Using this scoring scheme the Nationals and the Dodgers seem to hold the advantage, each scoring 15 points. Unfortunately, both teams are challenged getting their Aces healthy before the playoffs begin.

 

The next best score belongs to the Chicago Cubs with 17 points. The Cubs just put John Lackey on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, but it’s not expected to be serious. Cleveland scored well with 21 points, but they’ve had their own issues. Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin have been largely inconsistent. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco continue to anchor the rotation and push the Indians to their first American League Central Division title since 2007.

 

The Blue Jays aren’t going to pile up the K’s like the Indians. They aren’t going to dominate like the Dodgers or Nats. The Blue Jays will quietly hold off their opponents offence long enough for their offence to erupt. While not sexy and likely to cause the boys over at ESPN to continually question how Toronto is winning, this staff just might be good enough to get Toronto their 3rd World Series title.

 

 

 

 

 

*Featuted Image Credit: Larry Koester

 

 

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Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.