Jays From the Couch review the projected 2017 starting rotation for Blue Jays’ Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats fielded a talented team in 2016; unfortunately, much of the high-level talent could be found in the form of position players. Fisher Cat fans enjoyed a rotation mostly consisting of Blue Jays’ organizational arms.
As a whole, the Fisher Cat pitchers finished in the middle of the pack in almost all pitching stats. New Hampshire finished with a 3.85 ERA, 448 BB, 1033 K, and a 1.35 WHIP.
In 2017 New Hampshire fans will welcome back much of 2016’s rotation with the possible addition of one or two fresh faces. However, by the conclusion of the 2017 season, New Hampshire should possess many of the organization’s top pitching prospects. Barring injuries or a repeat of the 2015 Trade Deadline.
2016 New Hampshire Rotation Summary
The 23-yr-old Gabryszwski had a ‘mixed bag’ season for the Fisher Cats. He led the team with 28 starts, 146.1 innings pitched, and 96 strikeouts. Jeremy struggled in the 2nd half, posting a 3-5 record with a 7.51 ERA after the All-Star break.
The 28-yr-old John Anderson provided NH with a guy that would eat some innings while keeping the damage to something you could stomach. Anderson spent the first two months in NH before being called up to Buffalo. He would return to the Fisher Cats mid-July going between the rotation and bullpen.
After making two short appearances with the Dunedin Blue Jays, the 26-yr-old Luis Santos joined the Fisher Cats rotation on April 14th. Santos was steady all year providing the Fisher Cats and D-Jays with rotation depth. Luis Santos finished with a 5-3 record and 4.28 ERA in 15 Double-A starts.
Jason Berken provided the Fisher Cats with another arm they could bounce between the rotation and bullpen. Despite pitching decently in his first 5 starts, Berken started the year 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA before being moved to the bullpen in May. He didn’t get his first win as a starter until June 15th.
Alberta native, 23-yr-old Shane Dawson put together another decent season. The 6-foot-1 lefty struggled with his control, walking more batters in 2016 than his previous 3 years combined (66 BB). Despite his struggles, Dawson finished with a winning record (10-4) and a respectable 4.22 ERA in 26 starts. He set career highs with 134.1 innings pitched, 10 HRA, 134 hits, and 1.53 WHIP.
New Hampshire’s All-Time leader in wins, Casey Lawrence, split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. Casey added 3 more wins to his total and now has 24 wins with the Fisher Cats in 65 starts. He finished the year in Buffalo after being recalled on July 5th.
Conner Greene made his 2016 New Hampshire debut on July 2nd. Greene made 12 starts, finishing with a 6-5 record and 4.19 ERA.
After starting the year on the disabled list, veteran Taylor Cole joined the Fisher Cats on June 20th. Cole found himself back on the DL in August but returned to make two September appearances. Despite struggling with injuries Cole managed a 3-4 record with a nice 3.79 ERA in 11 starts.
Projected New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2017 Rotation
Gabryszwski, Dawson, and Cole should follow Conner Greene after Opening Day. Gabby will look to put a disastrous 2nd half behind him, while Dawson will need to figure out how to limit his walks.
Cole struck out 171 in the FSL in 2014 and 128 with the Fisher Cats in 2015. A healthy Cole will provide the Fisher Cats with another strikeout pitcher to compliment Conner Greene at the front the rotation. Don’t be surprised if Cole challenges Greene for the team lead in strikeouts.
The 5th spot is a toss up between Francisco Rios and Justin Shafer. Rios struggled down the stretch and made just 2 starts after July 31st. On the other hand, Justin Shafer finished strong with a 1-1, 2.43 ERA record in 4 August starts. Both pitchers are expected to be added to the Fisher Cats roster and either could fill the role of swingman.
5th Spot Darkhorse Candidates
Ryan Cook and Luis Santos could grab the 5th rotation spot. Taylor Cole may continue to struggle to remain healthy. Rios or Shafer have yet to face Double-A competition and may struggle to adjust, which could also open the door for the veteran Cook and Santos to secure a spot in the rotation.
*Featured Image Credit: C.Stem JFtC
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