Archive for the ‘ Pitching ’ Category

Blue Jays re-sign RHP Marco Estrada (!)

The Toronto Blue Jays have officially announced the re-signing of RHP Marco Estrada, to a one-year $13-million contract extension.

Last night around 11pm EST, MLB insider JP Morosi tweeted out that the Blue Jays were close to re-signing Estrada to a one year deal. About 13 hours later, the Jays made it official!

Estrada has been pitching for the Jays since the 2015 “dream season”. Many fans don’t know (or remember), that the Estrada started as a relief pitcher for the Blue Jays, before being converted to a starter later in the 2015 season! In 3 seasons with the Jays, he has had a combined ERA of 3.82 and has played over 94 games for them.

This re-signing gives a head start to what seems to be like a challenging upcoming off-season for the Jays team/front office. With 4 (?) pending free agents on the current 40-man roster. Along with all of the outfield, backup catcher, and relief pitching priorities.

It’s nice to know that a quality starter in Estrada will be on our team for yet another season!

You can check out some Estrada highlights from his 2016 season down below! And from the 2015 season, here!

Alyssa Cohen

Joe Biagini to Start on Sunday against Tampa Bay Rays

On Friday (May 5), the Blue Jays announced that Joe Biagini will be making his first start as a Blue Jay on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pending the possible injury of Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays have two (potentially three) starting rotation starts open. It is important for the Blue Jays to see how Biagini could pitch in 2+ innings, not just one inning in relief. If all goes well, Biagini will have a lock on a starting roll for the next few weeks.

Mat Latos was originally scheduled to start in Tampa, but has since been DFA’d.

“I’d be more than pleased if he gave us four” innings.” said John Gibbons after talking to the media on Friday, late afternoon.

Here is what Joe Biagini had to say:

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Let’s hope that Joe Biagini can fill the needs of the Blue Jays starting pitching rotation, while several regular starters are on the DL.

Alyssa Cohen

Who is the Toronto Blue Jays Fifth Starter?

With Aaron Sanchez back on the disabled list, and J.A. Happ still on it, who will take over the spot as the fifth reliever?

As I have mentioned many times before, the one good thing about having Drew Hutchison in the organization was that he was a reliable starter. Whenever a starter or reliable reliever got injured, the Jays could call up Hutchison to take over the spot. And while he may not have been as good as the injured pitcher, he would still be about average.

Mat Latos made an ugly start on Tuesday (May 2), giving up seven earned runs in four innings. But with Sanchez back on the DL, he will be making at least one more start.

Casey Lawerence was brought up to take over a game start, since Happ and Sanchez are on the DL, but he did not have a fantastic first start. He gave up a grand slam, but that was pretty much the only damage he caused in 6 and 1/3 innings. Does he deserve a second start? Possibly. But are there any other pitchers the Jays could give the start to instead? Maybe.

On Sunday (April 30), Sanchez exited the game after one inning (13 pitches). The Jays went to the bullpen and called out Ryan Tepera. Coincidently, I was at that game and was immediately confused as to what had happened to Sanchez, but thanks to Twitter, the situation was explained. Tepera was not the most obvious choice to call out of the pen, but he was stellar in his four innings of relief, playing one run ball. Does that emergency relief appearance earn Tepera a start? I believe so. Even if he can play four – five innings, I have faith that the Jays bullpen would be able to keep the team in the game, even if they give up a couple of runs. For the past few games, the bullpen has played great, and if they can continue to pitch like that, it can help support any starter.

At this point, there really isn’t anyone that the Blue Jays could call up from AAA Buffalo. Technically speaking, Mat Latos is that guy, but he is already filling in for one missing starter.

One of the biggest concerns going into this season was about the health status of our starters, and what would happen to the team if anyone got injured. Now that health is a major risk factor in the five man rotation, the Toronto Blue Jays organization will be put to the test. If they manage to figure out a way to win without two of their most valuable starters, that can certainly help the Jays in the long run. But if the Blue Jays get trapped in a hole, due to a lack of starting pitching, it has the potential to hurt them for the rest of the season.

Alyssa Cohen

The Blue Jays Secret Weapon: Francisco Liriano

LHP Fransisco Liriano is the best fifth starter in all of Major League Baseball.

In 29 starts (with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays), Liriano posted a 4.69 ERA, although he only had a 2.92 ERA with the Jays (August – October 2016).

Liriano has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball, and has continued to prove that in Toronto. He has been the best pitcher the Jays have used in Spring Training, striking out 10 batters in 4 innings pitched in his latest spring training start on Monday.

John Gibbons has previously shared that any one of the five starting pitchers in the rotation would be a good fit to pitch on opening day, and that could not be more true. With the ace of the staff (Aaron Sanchez), ace of the post season (Marco Estrada), ace of 2015 (Marcus Stroman), 20+ game winner (J.A. Happ) and the secret weapon (Francisco Liriano), it is impossible for Gibbons and the pitching staff to make a bad choice about the order of the rotation.

If one of the five starters needs to skip a start, Liriano is someone you can always count on to keep the Jays in the game. Along with being very consistent, he is also extremely reliable.

In 2016, he relied primarily on his Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (93mph) and Slider (86mph), also mixing in a Change (86mph) and Fourseam Fastball (94mph). He also rarely threw a Curve (80mph).

2017 is going to be a very interesting year for the Toronto Blue Jays, but I think it’ll be a good one for Francisco Liriano.

Alyssa Cohen

Blue Jays Renew Aaron Sanchez’s Contract

The Toronto Blue Jays have renewed Aaron Sanchez’s contract for the 2017 season to the major league minimum of $537,000 USD, as first reported by Bob Elliott.

Last season, Sanchez earned $517,800 USD, but was raised this year because the minimum pay increased thanks to the new basic agreement.

Sanchez was offered more, but Boras and himself declined. Therefore, Atkins kicked in the longtime Blue Jays policy and gave him the minimum as a result (no negotiation). The policy consists of “If a pre-arbitration player declines the initial proposal, minimum wage will be offered.” (Thanks to Michel on Facebook for pointing this out to me and for me to put it in the post.)

As most you already know, Aaron Sanchez had record of 15-2, and was crowned the ERA champion after finishing the season with an ERA of 3.00. His win percentage was also .882, the best in the american league.

According to Scott Boras (Sanchez’s new agent), the process could be described as “… the harshest treatment any team could provide a player.”

After having the highest ERA and win percentage in the american league, did Boras (and Sanchez) expect the Jays to offer him more than minimum. I would say yes. Although, the Jays have strict policy when it comes to renewing contracts, and Sanchez’s contract was no exception.

When asked about the process of renewing Sanchez’s contract, GM Ross Atkins said “This is a policy that was put in place 10 years ago. I don’t see it as punitive, we don’t see it as punitive because it’s your choice to not accept the higher number.”

A team that Scott Boras could have been looking at could have been the New York Mets. The Mets renewed (former Jays farm system player) Noah Syndergaard’s (2017) contract to $605,000 USD, a significantly higher amount than what the Jays will be paying Sanchez.

We still have quite a bit of time until Sanchez is arbitration-eligible (after the end of the 2017 season), and even more time until he becomes a free agent (after the 2020 season).

Alyssa Cohen