For Blue Jays, Pitching Depth Options Still Remain

For the Toronto Blue Jays, the 2016 rotation seems to be in good shape. But, in looking to add depth, there are still free agent options remaining.

 

The starting rotation for the Blue Jays is in reasonable shape. With the decisions to keep R.A. Dickey, bring back Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, the club is banking on guys who will provide innings. They won’t light the world on fire, but they will keep their club in contests so that the offense can do their thing. Marcus Stroman will take over the ace role and the 5th spot will be a competition between Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and perhaps Aaron Sanchez. So, the starting 5 will be taken care of.

That said, they will continue to look at adding pitching depth. To get through a season, you need more than just a starting 5. We’ve seen them add some depth in the form of deals with Brad Penny and Roberto Hernandez. But these don’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in said depth. There very well may be some other options out there that could offer more confidence when adding pitching depth.

Mat Latos

The 28 year old right hander is coming off a season that saw him bounce through 3 different clubs. In total, he threw 116.1 innings in 21 starts in what was supposed to be a year where he showed his health. In total, he went 4-10 with an ERA of 4.95 with a WHIP of 1.31 and a 3.71 FIP. Perhaps, he was showing signs of fatigue by the end of the season when the Dodgers only used him for brief outings at a time. His last 3 appearances were 2 or fewer innings. Then again, in those outings, he was facing way too many batters, which highlights his potential issues. This may be why he could be available for cheap.

The Blue Jays may be interested in his services due to the positives form his 2015 season. Latos struck out 100 (20.2%) and walked 32 (6.5%) in his 116 innings. He managed to induce nearly 44% ground balls while bringing his SwStr% up from 2014. As well, his Contact% (79.7%) is down from the previous season (83.1%). His first pitch strike rate is back to the norm for his career after taking a dip in 2014.

2015 saw Latos mix up his pitches a bit with his slider being used less and a splitter more, which showed a positive value (wSF: 5.4). He also backed off his 2014 reliance on the curveball. His velocity is back up from 2014 as well. Could he benefit from an full (?) season of work and an offseason of rest to be ready to return to his 2010-2013 form?

Steamer predicts a 9-10, 4.01 ERA season for him. Likely, there is lots of room for doubt when it comes to Latos. Despite that, there is also room for potential optimism. This combination just might make him a reasonable option for the Blue Jays.

Jeremy Guthrie

The 36 year old is coming off a run with the Royals that saw him go 36-31 over the last 3 seasons. Since 2012, he has thrown at least 180 innings. He was over 200 in 2013 and 2014. He’s not too far removed from being successful. The issue is that he was not in 2015. He went 8-8, but was moved out of a starting role.

Never a big strike out guy, Guthrie recorded Ks at a 12.7% rate. He walked just 6.6%. Batters hit him better than they ever have with a .305 average. This is made worse when you look at the line drives (25.8%) that were hit off him as well as the 14.1% HR/FB rate. In a place like Kansas City, that wouldn’t really be a problem. But, in Toronto, that makes you nervous.

However, when you’re considering depth additions, you have to adjust your focus a bit. You’re not expecting Clayton Kershaw. Guthrie just might be an interesting option in that he is likely nearing the end of his career and could look to take a lesser deal to stay employed. He would offer a spot start, long man, bullpen kind of mish-mash that very well could suit the Blue Jays just fine.

There very well could be some other interesting options that would require various levels of commitment. Can Cliff Lee return to his glory form? If he can even come close, he would be worth a look. Of course, he’ll likely cost more than anyone on this list given his track record. Tim Lincecum is working on proving his health a. Unlike Lee, The Freak could be had for much cheaper. He’s 31 and could offer a couple more seasons of upside. That means he might be willing to take a cheap “prove yourself” kind of deal.

There are a few names out there that have had a history of effectiveness that could be looking to catch on with the defending AL East Champions. Each of them would be motivated differently. Some may be looking to extend their careers even just one more year. Others may be looking to have a bounce back year. Heck, even Josh Johnson could be lightning in a bottle. OK, maybe that was too far.

The point is that the Blue Jays are continuing to build depth on the mound, as they should be. We know they have limited resources and are content with the heavy lifting already being done. That does not mean they are done looking. Perhaps, one of the above are options for them.

 

Hey, MLBTR Readers! Did you miss out on the last week at Jays From the Couch? Don’t worry. Here’s a recap for your enjoyment! We look at Blue Jays roster options, management and prospects!

 

*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

 

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.