With Marco Estrada hitting the DL, it is worth noting that the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation have combined to be quite the workhorses.
During his last start, we watch Marco Estrada gut out a 5 inning performance while dealing with extreme pain in his lower back. Between innings, he was sitting gingerly in the dugout. On the mound, he was the picture of focus as he worked through the pain. A series of cortizone shots in the lower back have not been enough to help him work through the injury and the club has decided to put him on the 15 day DL.
#BlueJays place right-hander Marco Estrada on 15-day disabled list, recall Bo Schultz, who likely won't arrive in time for tonight.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 6, 2016
With that move, the Toronto Blue Jays will have a member of their starting rotation hit the DL for the first time since Estrada spent time dealing with his back in March. In this regard, Toronto has been rather fortunate. Take a look at the long list of injuries in MLB from Fox Sports (sortable by month) and you’ll get a sense of how much time has been missed already in 2016. The Blue Jays have seen their share of injuries to core players like Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, but the rotation has remained in tact.
If you look at MLB ranks for 2016 (provided by ESPN), you see that the Toronto Blue Jays are first in all of baseball in innings from their starters. Currently, the starting rotation sits on 555.2 innings pitched. That’s ~13 more innings than the 2nd place San Francisco Giants and ~39 more than any AL team. Not only is the starting crop staying healthy, but they’re providing a heavy amount of innings. The main group of Marco Estrada (16), Marcus Stroman (18), Aaron Sanchez (17), J.A. Happ (17) and R.A. Dickey (18) have made all but one start for the club. Drew Hutchison (1) has the only other start.
Keeping your starters healthy can be just as important as having a staff full of aces. If 5 aces don’t make their starts and a club has to rely on 2nd or 3rd string callups, the season can go very wrong. Perhaps, it would behoove a team to focus more on health than spending a ton of money on those top tier starters.
Now, the Blue Jays do have a renewed focus in the area of health and injury prevention with Angus Mugford and his ‘Department of High Performance’ looking to provide unprecedented efforts in the area of conditioning, nutrition and mental health. Perhaps, the rotation is an early example of this team’s efforts paying off. Or, perhaps, there is an element of luck on the club’s side. Though, it is hard to believe that, when it comes to health, luck has a major role to play. That said, can health and nutrition be the answer? It’s also hard to believe that a kale smoothie and a counselling session can keep pitchers on the mound. Maybe it is a little of both.
Regardless, the Blue Jays are benefiting from the health of their rotation. They’ve been workhorses thus far. Take a look at the workload that each starter has provided.
Dickey- 18 starts, 109.2 IP, avg 6.1 IP/start
Stroman- 18 starts, 116 IP, avg 6.1 IP/start
Sanchez- 17 starts, 113.1 IP, avg 6.2 IP/start
Happ- 17 starts, 106.2 IP, avg 6.1 IP/start
Estrada- 16 starts, 104.1 IP, avg 6.5 IP/start
An interesting side note is that the rotation has totaled 555 innings and not one of them has a complete game. Not. One. Overall, we can characterize the efforts of the rotation as “solid” rather than having flashes of brilliant dominance. There haven’t been any no-hitters, or perfect games, or even any complete games. But, what this group has provided is a consistent, steady force, which is all you can ask for. There have been bad starts, to be sure. But, on the whole, the Toronto Blue Jays have been the recipients of a solid, mostly healthy starting rotation.
Here we are in the second week of July and we have our first real DL stint for a member of the starting rotation. Whether it is due to luck or the club’s focus on health, we really don’t know. But, what we do know is that the starting rotation has been a stable of workhorses that has carried the team through a struggling bullpen and an inconsistent offense. The Blue Jays are as close to the division lead as they are because of the rotation.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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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.