Looking Back, Looking Forward: The starting rotation wound up being a strength in 2021, but the Blue Jays have a lot of work to do to repeat that success

The Blue Jays pitching rotation was a huge question mark coming into the 2021 season.

Back in 2020, the team managed to navigate the 60-game sprint despite only really having one reliable starting pitcher most of the way. Until the team acquired Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and Ross Stripling ahead of the trade deadline, Hyun Jin Ryu was the only one who you could bank on going out there and throwing a good start consistently.
By the end of the 2021 season, though, starting pitching was a team strength. It didn’t look like anybody expected it would, as Ryu, ironically, was the weak link in a five-man group that went out and gave the Blue Jays a chance to win nearly every single game.
Can the rotation again be a strength for the Blue Jays in 2022?
The acquisition of the ultra-consistent Jose Berrios and the breakout showing from Alek Manoah gives the Blue Jays a nice place to start, but replacing what the team got out of Ray and Steven Matz won’t be easy.
Apr 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Overton’s Long Road To The Show

For twenty-eight-year-old reliever, Connor Overton, pitching in the big leagues has probably felt like a far-fetched dream over the course of his eight-year professional career. It’s a journey that has made stops in ten different cities, across four major league organizations, and two independent organizations. He’s been a Muckdog, a Grasshopper, a Flying Squirrel, and today, after all that, he’ll be a Toronto Blue Jay.

Drafted in 2014. 10 different teams. 2 stints in Indy ball.
Connor Overton’s perseverance paid off pic.twitter.com/Q3J4EqrKE2
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 12, 2021

Originally a 15th-round pick of the Miami Marlins out of Old Dominion, Overton’s road to the big leagues was always going to be contentious. Baseball, like most things in life, has its fair share of politics. A 15th-round pick is never going to get the same opportunity that a 1st-round pick with a hefty signing bonus is going to get. The leash is short, and it doesn’t matter if it’s poor performance or badly timed injuries that derail your ascent–once you get off the track, it’s a difficult thing to get back on.
When Overton signed with the Blue Jays in 2020, with little …

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Author: DeuceDoucette / Blue Jays Nation

Looking for a long man

The Jays starting pitching is pretty damn good.

Robbie Ray is an ace, as I’ve been saying since mid-June. Ryu has had his issues such as his change-up, but overall he’s been solid this season. Manoah? He’s been so good that I wonder why he wasn’t with the Jays from the start of the season. Now with the addition of Jose Berrios, the Jays have four starting pitchers with an ERA under 3.31.

Starting pitcher ERA for the #BlueJays @Alek_Manoah6: 2.47 ERA@RobbieRay : 3.04 ERA@HyunJinRyu99: 3.26 ERA@JOLaMaKina: 3.31 ERA
Fantastic.#WeAreBlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) August 2, 2021

That begs the question, who’ll be the fifth starter and who’ll be the long man?
Steven Matz:
This has been a weird season for Steven Matz. He started the season off incredibly hot allowing only 6 earned runs in 23.1 IP. This was good for a 2.31 ERA. At this point, he was also striking out a lot of batters as he had a K/9 of 9.64 during this span. Furthermore, his opponent’s BABIP was incredibly low at 2.14.
His next five wasn’t the same result. In those five games, he pitched 24.2 innings, allowing 19 runs. That is a 6.93 ERA. While his K/9 …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Digging into Samad Taylor’s breakout season in Double-A

You wake up, expecting the big lad Alek Manoah to be pitching tonight. You look at your phone and it says… July 31st, 2017. That can’t be right, can it? You look through your notifications expecting another postponement, but you see that Joe Smith has been traded for Travis Pannone and Samad Taylor.

“What the heck happened last night?” you ask yourself. “How did I get home?” You fall back asleep because this is getting weird.
You wake up the next day and it’s July 9th, 2021. Back to normal, pandemic and all. You decide to look at that Samad Taylor kid’s slash line: .303/.393/.961. 
High schoolers take a while to develop
I always find these types of articles to be the most fun. I took a Management and Entrepreneurship class as my first college program, so I tend to look at players like assets in a way. Joe Smith was a good asset at the time, but as he was signed to a one-year, 3 million dollar contract on a non-playoff team, he had to be moved.
While Pannone never quite panned out for the Jays, there is still hope that this trade can become a win in their favour. …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays acquire pitcher Jeremy Beasley from the Diamondbacks, Thomas Hatch goes to the 60-day Injured List

The Blue Jays have added some pitching depth.

The team announced today that they’ve acquired right-handed pitcher Jeremy Beasley from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Beasley had been designated for assignment earlier this week. In a corresponding roster move, the team has moved Thomas Hatch from the 10-day Injured List to the 60-day Injured List, which opens up Beasley’s spot on the 40-man roster.
So, who is this guy? Good question!
When searching “Jeremy Beasley Scouting Report,” the best report I could find was one from last January when he was traded from the L.A. Angels to Arizona for Matt Andriese. The report suggests that Beasley is most likely an option for a team’s bullpen…
Beasley spent the bulk of 2019 at Double-A, as well as making three starts at Triple-A, though it’s hard to call him impressive at either level:

Double-A (108.2 IP) – 4.06 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.45 K/9, 3.48 BB/9
Triple-A (13.2 IP) – 7.90 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 8.56 K/9, 3.95 BB/9

He did show an ability to miss bats, with a 13.8% SwStr% overall, but both his control and groundball rate (45.8%) were lackluster.  That, along with a limited arsenal, make you think that his future lies in the bullpen.  Here’s what Baseball America said about his …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Another pitcher bites the dust

We’ve got yet another injury to the Blue Jays pitching staff. This time, it’s T.J. Zeuch.

Zeuch has been placed on the 10-day Injured List with right shoulder tendinitis and Santiago Espinal has been called up from the Alternate Training Site in a subsequent move.
That means that the Blue Jays currently have Kirby Yates, Patrick Murphy, Ross Stripling, Jordan Romano, Tyler Chatwood, Julian Merryweather, Nate Pearson, and Tom Hatch on the Injured List among pitchers on the 40-man roster. Only Elvis Luciano, Ty Tice, and Travis Bergen remain as pitchers on the 40-man who aren’t currently either injured or on the active roster.
Zeuch hasn’t exactly been all that good this year, as he’s allowed nine earned runs over 12 innings of work and he’s walked more guys than he’s struck out, but the fact pitchers are dropping like flies is obviously worrying. Of course, this isn’t just a Blue Jays thing so save your ‘hurrr durrrr more like the low-performance department!!!’ jokes. This is a thing all around baseball and it likely has to do with last season being significantly shorter than normal seasons.
Anyway, that’s eight pitchers on …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Despite poor start in Grapefruit finale, T.J. Zeuch has made the Blue Jays’ roster

T.J. Zeuch will be a member of the Blue Jays’ pitching staff when the team breaks camp.

The Blue Jays reportedly told Zeuch before he took the mound in Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit finale that was the case.
He then went ahead and laid an egg against the Phillies, allowing five earned runs on nine hits and a walk over the course of three innings. Let’s hope he’s just getting all of the bad out now before pitching in an actual game later this week!
Jokes aside, I would imagine that the Blue Jays told Zeuch before the game that he didn’t have to go out there and prove anything on the mound today so he took it a bit easy and that played into the ugly outing. I don’t know. Maybe that’s optimistic and he just isn’t that good.
Regardless, Zeuch is going to start the season with the team, and I would assume he’s taking Robbie Ray’s spot in the starting rotation for now. It’s either that or he’s going to be in the team’s bullpen as a guy who can munch innings in the event …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Kirby Yates is injured. Who should close games for the Blue Jays in the meantime?

The Blue Jays pitching staff has suffered another injury.

With Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch already dealing with issues, word came out on Monday that Kirby Yates, Toronto’s expected closer, had suffered a flexor-pronator (in the forearm, close to the elbow) strain in his right arm. That doesn’t sound good!

Kirby Yates has been diagnosed with a flexor-pronator strain in his right arm, the #BlueJays tell us.
He’s expected to miss “multiple weeks.”
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 22, 2021

The word as of right now is that Yates will miss “multiple weeks,” which is fairly vague but clearly gives the indication that we shouldn’t expect him back any time soon. It’s also a very worrying injury given the fact Yates made just six appearances in 2021 before undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow, so let’s hope this doesn’t evolve into something bigger.
So, what now?
The Blue Jays came into the 2020 season with Ken Giles pencilled in as their closer but, of course, he got injured three games into the season and didn’t pitch again. With Giles out, the Blue Jays used a combination of Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, Jordan Romano, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

It looks like Nate Pearson won’t be ready for the start of the season

The Blue Jays’ starting pitching depth will be put to the test early on, it seems.

Mark Shapiro appeared on The Fan590 with Scott MacArthur on Tuesday morning and he mentioned that it’s “hard to see” Nate Pearson being ready for when the team travels north opens up the season in Dunedin come April. As of right now, Shapiro said, Ross Stripling will be the one to replace Pearson in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation.
Pearson suffered a groin injury during his first spring outing last week and it’ll take a few weeks for him to get back on the mound. Given the fact opening day is just over three weeks away, Pearson won’t have adequate time to get himself ramped up, and, thus, the Blue Jays are going to take things slow with their young fireballer.
Though Stripling had an ugly season in 2020, posting a 5.84 ERA between the L.A. Dodgers and the Blue Jays, he has been a successful starting pitcher in the past. In 2018, Stripling was key as the Dodgers navigated injuries to both Clayton Kershaw and Hyun Jin Ryu. He posted a 3.02 ERA that season as a starter, swingman type, and earned himself …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

J.A. Happ Round Three?

We all want the Blue Jays to make some pitching additions this off-season. Perhaps adding somebody from the New York Yankees? Maybe a left-handed starter?

Apparently, according to Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays have expressed interest in doing exactly that, though it isn’t the Yankee lefty you’re probably hoping for.
Nope, not James Paxton to satisfy your need for CanCon. The Blue Jays have shown interest in old friend J.A. Happ.

Sources: #BlueJays interested in free agent LHP J.A. Happ, who had two prior tenures with the club: 2012-2014 and 2016-2018. Happ, 38, ranked fourth in ERA+ this year among free-agent pitchers who threw at least 40 IP. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 22, 2020

Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling mentioned the possibility of the Jays circling back to Happ as a veteran pitching addition last week, so it isn’t all too big of a surprise to see his name mentioned here. Also, it seems the Jays are checking in with literally everyone so this might not mean anything.
Anyways, J.A. Happ, Round Three? Why not, I guess?
This obviously wouldn’t be the top-of-the-rotation upgrade we’re all hoping for, but Happ is still a fairly …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation