Jays From the Couch reviews the projected 2017 starting rotation for the Blue Jays Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
Doing Triple-A projections at any position is my least favorite task of Spring Training. Seriously, a 33-yr-old 10-year minor league veteran doesn’t cause any fan to get excited. I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading right now because the Buffalo Bisons, while it has some intrigue, doesn’t have any of the Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects.
2016 Bisons Rotation Summary
Buffalo’s 2016 rotation consisted of Wade LeBlanc, Drew Hutchison, Scott Diamond, and Chris Leroux. There were a lot of rain days at the beginning of the year which made the 5th spot in the rotation a free pass.
After spending 2015 pitching overseas Wade LeBlanc made a triumphant return to North America. He was easily the International Leagues best SP and on June 22nd the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners hammered out a trade that landed the Blue Jays second baseman Tim Lopes. Wade LeBlanc’s Bison career was over after just 14 starts.
Hutchison and Diamond led the way for the Bisons after LeBlanc’s departure. Hutch had some decent numbers but overall was very ordinary. He finished with a 7-6 record and 3.59 ERA in 24 starts. The 26-yr-old was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 1st for Francisco Liriano, Harold Ramirez, and Reese McGuire.
Diamond led the Herd in starts (28), losses (15), IP (166), and an assortment of other not so flattering stats. Scott Diamond was a serviceable arm for the Herd.
Speaking of serviceable Canadian starting pitchers, Chris Leroux from Montreal was just that. Leroux finished with an 8-11 record and 4.87 ERA, chewing up 140.1 innings over 24 starts.
Major league veteran Roberto Hernandez rejoined the Bisons on April 27th after failing to win a Major League starting gig out of Spring Training. In 13 starts, Hernandez went 4 and 4 with a 4.42ERA before being released on July 3rd.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats career win leader, Casey Lawrence, joined the Bisons on July 5th. Lawrence’s stats improved during his time with Buffalo finishing with a 5-6 record and 3.83 ERA in 15 starts. Casey Lawrence was the Bisons pitcher to pitch a complete game.
There was an assortment of other pitchers to make spot starts for the Bisons. Scott Copeland returned from Korea to provide rotation reinforcements. Mike Bolsinger was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers, making 6 uninspiring starts. John Anderson, Wilmer Font, Pat Venditte, Chad Jenkins, Jason Berken, Arnold Leon, and Dustin Antolin combined to make 17 starts for Buffalo.
Projected Buffalo Bisons 2017 Rotation
Blue Jays front office did a good job adding veteran arms to fill out the Bisons rotation. 35-yr-old Jarrett Grube has 387 minor league appearances with 172 minor league starts with 11 teams. Grube made 20 starts in 2016, going 1-7 with a 3.92 ERA.
31-yr-old Lucas Harrell has 71 Major League starts and 172 Minor League starts to his credit. Harrell made 11 MiLB and 9 MLB starts in 2016. He made 5 starts for Atlanta and 4 starts for Texas for a combined record of 3-2 and 4.21 ERA.
I expect Gavin Floyd to be sent to Buffalo and join the Bisons rotation after suffering through another injury riddled season. Despite not making one start in 2016, the Bisons rotation will benefit from his 196 MLB starts.
29-yr-old Casey Lawrence has a chance to start for the Bisons or head back to New Hampshire. I think he deserves a chance at solidifying himself with the Bisons. Lawrence should build off his successful 2016.
The 5th spot in the rotation is a tricky one. I think 27-yr-old TJ House should be given the first shot at claiming that spot. Unlike Mat Latos, House hasn’t lost velocity. House only made 12 Triple-A starts in 2016, making an additional 21 relief appearances. The former Cleveland starter made 4 relief appearances for the Indians in 2016.
5th Spot Darkhorse Candidates
Oberholtzer spent most of 2016 in the Philidelphia and Los Angeles Angles bullpen. The 27-yr-old made 2 starts for the Angles lasting only 4 innings and posting a 13.50 ERA in the process.
29-yr-old Mat Latos has seen his fastball velocity abandon him, dropping from 94.2 to 90.2 mph. So unless Latos can regain his form, he should be considered for spot starts only.
33-yr-old Matt Buschmann was added to the Bisons roster on March 7th giving the Herd yet another MiLB veteran SP option. Buschmann has 239 minor league starts under his belt and been starting since 2006. He made his MLB debut in 2016 with 3 relief appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2016 he also made 24 Triple-A starts going 8-10 with a 5.26 ERA.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem JFtC
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