With the Blue Jays’ 2020 season start around the corner, JFtC takes a look at off season acquisitions Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson.
Anyone who followed the Blue Jays in 2019 knows that pitching was among the team’s biggest needs if not their biggest one. Toronto’s starting pitchers ranked 22nd in MLB with a 5.25 era, and that includes Marcus Stroman‘s 2.96 in 21 games with Toronto. Stroman, who was traded to the Mets last July won’t be around in 2020.
So what can the Jays reasonably expect from this pair of new acquisitions? Let’s start with Roark.
On one hand, if his MLB history is any indication, Roark will likely be better than most of the starting pitchers Toronto used in 2019.
On the other hand, it’s doubtful that anyone expects him to compete for the AL Cy Young award. 33 year old Roark is a 7 year MLB veteran. It’s unlikely that there is more upside to his game beyond what he has already done in the majors.
In each of the past three seasons, his era has been in the 4s, 4.67, 4.34 and 4.35 to be exact. His 162 game average in terms of innings pitched is 194. Realistically, and assuming he stays healthy, Roark should be able to keep the Jays in games most of the time, both in terms of innings pitched and effectiveness on the mound. He probably won’t be that unbeatable ace that opposing teams dread facing.
32 year old Anderson is a 6 year MLB veteran, who previously played for the Diamondbacks and Brewers. He has a career 3.94 era. His best season to date was 2017, when he was 12-4 with a 2.74 era. In his other 5 seasons, his era was just under 4 (3.93 in 2018) or between 4 and 5.
If Anderson can somehow manage to pitch like he did in 2017, Jays’ management would be thrilled. The more likely scenario though is that he will produce an era around 4.
Both of these moves seem like “raise the floor” moves rather than “raise the ceiling” ones. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.
Toronto ins’t expected to contend in 2020, and if they do then that’s great. Then they will be ahead of schedule.
Signing Hyun-Jin Ryu to a 4 year, $80 million free agent contract was a move that likely helps the Jays contend in the future, but odds are that will happen after 2020. What if the Jays had managed to sign, say, Gerrit Cole AND Ryu? Would that have made them contenders sooner?
Maybe, but maybe not. In baseball, having one or two all star caliber pitchers doesn’t mean you will win anything. The late great Roy Halladay spent several seasons with Toronto on his way to induction to Cooperstown. He made 6 all star teams and won the Cy Young award once, in 2003. Yet the team could not even get to the postseason during his tenure.
In baseball you need a team, ready and capable of winning. The Jays group of core position players is young and talented, but they are expected to need 2020 to continue developing at the major league level.
The Jays organization does have high upside pitching prospects. Nate Pearson is widely expected to make his MLB debut in 2020. After him, others such as Alek Manoah, Simeon Woods Richardson, Adam Kloffenstein and Eric Pardinho are further down the development ladder.
Having established MLB pitchers like Anderson and Roark to help bridge the gap from the rebuilding years to competitive years in the future fits with the plan.
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