2017 Toronto Blue Jays vs ALE: Rotation


With Spring Training games underway, Jays From the Couch compare Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation to the other American League East starting rotations



After comparing the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen to those of their AL East opponents, I wanted to take a look at the starting rotations. I’ve generated tables for each of the ALE teams with the 5 starters I feel stand the best chance of starting the season in the rotation. I decided to focus on batted balls in play, walks plus hits per inning pitched, skill-interactive ERA, swings on pitches outside the strike zone, and ground ball divided by balls in play.


A low BABIP indicates pitcher that prevents hits. A low WHIP indicates a pitcher with good control of the strike zone, limiting hits and walks. A pitcher with a low SIERA typically put up high K/9 numbers, low BABIP and high GB%. Starting pitchers typically have higher SIERA. A SIERA under 3 is good and over 4.5 is not.


GB% represent the frequency a pitcher will induce a ground ball. A higher GB% is better as it typically indicates a pitcher that gets a lot of groundball outs and a higher percentage of double plays. We all know that double plays are good. Pitchers with high GB% typically have higher HR/FB as they produce fewer fly balls (FB).


So let’s get to it before Spring Training claims it’s first victim.


Toronto Blue Jays

Marco Estrada .2341.124.3528.533.5
JA Happ.2681.174.2828.242.5
Aaron Sanchez.2671.174.0125.754.4
Marcus Stroman.3081.293.6230.860.1
Francisco Liriano.2641.163.6935.052.7


R.A. Dickey is off to Atlanta, replaced with Francisco Liriano. Toronto’s rotation, as a whole, is considered the strongest in Major League Baseball but it not without questions. The rotation’s been described as having 5 really good 2nd or 3rd starters. J.A. Happ‘s been one of the best pitchers in baseball since being traded to Pittsburgh in 2015. In 2016 he put together the quietest 20-win season. Will he continue to trend upwards in 2017? Marco Estrada struggled with back issues all season, will his back continue to be a concern?


Marcus Stroman had an inconsistent 2016. He posted a 7-4 record with 4.89 ERA in the 1st half before turning it around in the 2nd half for a 2-6 record and 3.68 ERA. It’s possible that Stroman was still bothered by a knee that caused him to miss much of 2015. Which version of Marcus Stroman can the Blue Jays expect in 2017?


Can Russell Martin keep Liriano from falling back into his pre-2016 Trade Deadline form or will he revert back to the Liriano that caused the Pirates run him out of town with two top prospects?


The dreaded ‘INNINGS LIMIT’ dogged Aaron Sanchez all season. The ‘kid gloves’ should be off in ’17, allowing Sanchez to focus on becoming the ACE everyone thinks he will become. Can Sanchez hold up to a 200IP season?


Toronto will have to pray for good health in 2017 as depth could quickly become the club’s Achilles heel. The front office has done it’s best to load up the Buffalo Bisons with possible replacements, guys like Mat Latos, Brett Oberholtzer, Gavin Floyd and T.J. House. The system doesn’t have any Major League-ready talent on the horizon in 2017. Conner Greene, if he can get a handle on his control issues, could surprise with a 2017 appearance.


40-man Roster Options

Mike Bolsinger, Glenn Sparkman, and Joe Biagini


MLB.com Top Pitching Prospect

Sean Ried-Foley



Tampa Bay Rays

Chris Archer.2961.243.5030.547.8
Jake Odorizzi.2711.194.2131.936.6
Alex Cobb.3551.774.5033.252.5
Blake Snell.3561.624.5329.736.5
Matt Andriese.3251.334.0437.542.4


The Rays some starting pitching depth they can play with. That depth should allow them to take it slow with Alex Cobb (missed all of 2015 and most of 2016) and will give them options to fill the 5th spot in the rotation.


Chris Archer will look to rebound from a frustrating 9-19 2016 season. Jake Odorizzi will look to improve his stock before the 2017 Trade Deadline as he will likely be on the market. Blake Snell has the skill and ‘stuff’ to have a very good 2017 after a so-so 2016 rookie season.  The 5th spot in the rotation is up for grabs, with Matt Andriese the odds-on favorite. Jose De Leon will need a strong spring to stick with the cost conscience Rays, as sending him to Triple-A until the Trade Deadline will give the club an addition half year of control.


40-man Roster Options

Chase Whitley, Jose De Leon, Chih-Wei Hu, Taylor Guerrieri, and Jacob Faria


MLB.com Top Pitching Prospect

Jose De Leon



New York Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka.2711.083.6136.548.2
Michael Pineda.3391.353.3035.445.8
CC Sabathia.2881.324.3531.750.1
Adam Warren.2821.254.0432.844.3
Luis Severino.3241.784.0627.244.3


The Yankees have Masahiro Tanaka, an inconsistent and injury-plagued Michael Pineda, an aging C.C. Sabathia, and a promising Luis Severino who may be better in a relief role than starter.


The Yankees seem committed to not throwing money at problems, choosing instead to commit to the youth movement. Unfortunately, the farm is loaded with position prospect but very little major league ready pitching talent.


Their solution to this problem? Options.


The Yankees will have Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, and Bryan Mitchell challenge for the 4th and 5th spot in the rotation. The losers will likely end up filling out the bullpen.


If Tanaka and Pineda can stay healthy, Sabathia can hold off father time for another year, and Severino can improve on his 0-8 record and 8-50 ERA as a starter behind him. It is rotation or Triple-A for Severino.


40-man Roster Options

Chad Green, Luis Cessa, and Bryan Mitchell


MLB.com Top Pitching Prospect

Justus Sheffield



Baltimore Orioles

Chris Tillman .2821.284.6127.741.2
Kevin Gausman.308.1283.8134.844.1
Dylan Bundy.2571.304.2632.538.6
Wade Miley.3891.573.6334.348.5
Ubaldo Jimenez.3211.554.7327.349.3


The O’s ACE is on the mend but has yet to progress beyond playing catch. How much this shoulder issue will set Chris Tillman back is still unknown.


Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy showed glimpses of why they were drafted in the 1st round. If the pair can build upon their 2016 season the O’s rotation will receive a significant upgrade over Yovani Gallardo, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright. The O’s hope that Ubaldo Jimenez can perform more like he did in the second half (3-3, 2.82 ERA in 8 starts) than in the first half (5-9, 7.38 ERA in 17 starts). This would give Baltimore 4 solid starters.


Wade Miley was horrible after being acquired in July; unfortunately, the O’s lack of SP depth will force Baltimore to turn to Miley every fifth day.


40-man Roster Options

Mike Wright, Jayson Aquino, Chris Lee, Gabriel Ynoa, Joe Gunkel, and Tyler Wilson


MLB.com Top Pitching Prospect

Cody Sedlock




Boston Red Sox

Chris Sale.2791.043.4333.341.2
Rick Porcello.2691.013.7831.643.1
David Price.3101.203.6032.943.7
Steven Wright.3271.244.5525.643.7
Eduardo Rodriguez.2781.304.4431.931.6

The addition of Chris Sale gives the Red Sox  a rather potentially dominant starting rotation. Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, David Price and Sale are all ACES and are primed for career seasons. The trio will do what’s expected of them. How the Red Sox fill out the other 2 rotation spots is where the questions arise.


Can Steven Wright replicate an All-Star 10-5, 2.68 ERA first half or will the Red Sox get the 2nd half Wright that went 3-1, 5.06 ERA? The knuckleball pitcher will be expected to eat innings in 2017. Boston has solid SP depth with Drew Pomeranz, Henry Owens, and Brian Johnson all competing with Eduardo Rodriguez for the 5th spot in the rotation. As you can see by the above table, I’m giving the inside edge to Rodriguez but a knee injury he suffered in winter ball may hold him back.


40-man Roster Options

Drew Pomeranz, Henry Owens, and Brian Johnson


MLB.com Top Pitching Prospect

Jason Groome




In 2016 the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t have the ‘best’ starters in the American League East but they were the ‘best’ 1 through 5. In 2017 the Red Sox will challenge Toronto for the best overall staff. The Sox edge the Jays with a better WHIP, SIERA, and O-Swing%, but Toronto should once again win games by posting low BABIP and GB% thanks to a strong defense.


From Blake Snell and Alex Cobb in Tampa to Sanchez and Stroman in Toronto every ALE team have quality young pitchers that could have career years in 2017, transforming their respective staffs.






*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC









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.

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.