Welcome Colby Rasmus. Hopefully, he and Travis Snider will push each other to meet their ubiquitously spoken of potential.
As of Wednesday July 27, GM Alex Anthopolous, video seen at Getting Blanked, had only stated that Brad Mills was called up for temporary bullpen depth, until the Blue Jays new pitchers (P.J. Walters and Trevor Miller) arrived. A decision had not yet been made on who would start Saturday’s game. How quickly things change in these starting rotation sweepstakes. Brad Mills is our #5.
According to Mike Wilner on the Jays Talk, Mills is likely getting the start today as a way of showing him off as potential trade bait, before the deadline strikes Sunday. The following John Farrell quote from bluejays. com, provides some context:
“The fact that Brad has thrown the ball exceptionally well in Las Vegas, I think he’s earned the spot,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s got the opportunity to take this start and run with it.”
Whatever the case may be, Mills deserves at least a 10 game stint in some major league ball club’s starting rotation.
He’s dominated in Triple-A, unlike Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch and Kyle Drabek. He’s got a lot to prove at the big league level, and I think he’s about ready to do it.
Zach Stewart is out, no longer part of the puzzle. Our depth of starting rotation makes losing Zach a moot point, (in the modern sense of the term).
I don’t think Luis Perez has earned his shot in the rotation, though look for him to rejoin the big club’s bullpen soon.
Carlos Villanueva will have to pitch better than he did Thursday over his next three starts, especially if Mills hangs around, Litsch pitches well in long relief and Kyle Drabek continues to bring his ERA back down to Earth.
Exciting times, indeed.
Chad Beck made the jump to Las Vegas this week. Deck McGuire is now a New Hampshire Fisher Cat, and Dustin McGowan is now up to pitching three innings per start with Dunedin. Joel Carreno and Henderson Alvarez are knocking on the Blue Jays door. It will be interesting to see if either gets the chance to show his stuff when the roster expands to 40 come September.
- Ricky Romero (26)
- Brandon Morrow (27)
- Brett Cecil (25)
- Carlos Villanueva (27)
- ↑Brad Mills (26)
- ↑Jesse Litsch (26) – Toronto bullpen
- ↑Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
- ↑Dustin McGowan (29) – Dunedin
- ↑Joel Carreno (24) -New Hampshire
- ↑Luis Perez (26) – Las Vegas
- ↑Henderson Alvarez (21) – New Hampshire
- Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
- ↑Deck McGuire (22) – New Hampshire
- ↑Chad Beck (26) – Las Vegas
- ↓Scott Richmond (31) – Las Vegas
- ↓Robert Ray (27) – Las Vegas
- ↑Nestor Molina (22) -Dunedin
- ↑B.J. LaMura (30) – New Hampshire
- ↑Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin
- ↑Ryan Tepera (23) -Dunedin
Ricky Romero – leadership shown, all-star calibre, struggles with Red Sox
Kyle Drabek – demotion to Las Vegas, return to rotation a challenge
Brett Cecil – fastball up to 93 mph again, rotation mainstay rest of way
Jo Jo Reyes – unfocused, #5 spot in starting rotation, on the bubble
Jesse Litsch – rehab stint in Las Vegas, rotation spot in doubt
Brandon Morrow – shades of 2010, momentum, on verge of breakthrough
Carlos Villaneuva – exceeding expectations, #4 starter, trade bait
Sean Camp – Zen master of eliciting ground balls, hittable, 1 blown save
Jason Frasor – sure hand, candidate for closer role, 2 blown saves
John Rauch – hothead, very hittable, 7 saves in 9 tries
Mark Rzepczynski – reliable middle-relief, 3 blown saves, 3 extra base hits allowed
Casey Jannssen – placed on 15-day DL, retroactive to June 15
Octavio Dotel – improved effectiveness, innings eater
Frank Francisco – below average closer, 4 blown saves, unprofessional tendency
Luis Perez – helpful middle relief, unestablished rookie, 2 blown saves
Aaron Hill – too cautious, shell of 2009 self, Blue Jay end near
Adam Lind – dialed in, future batting champion, all-star production
Travis Snider – 3 doubles in MLB return, deserving outfield starter
Jason Nix – below Mendoza line, designated for assignment July 2
Jose Molina – above-average backup catcher, effective place holder
Corey Patterson – horrendous decision-making on base paths + outfield, liability
Jose Bautista – constant development, all-star, MVP candidate
J.P. Arencibia – good rookie production, sunken BA
Rajai Davis – lightning speed, awful slump, too many SO, second half producer
Edwin Encarnacion – natural DH, streaky, on the bubble
Yunel Escobar – all-star calibre statistics, improved power + work ethic
Juan Rivera – place holder role over, DFA July 3
John McDonald – above Mendoza line again, unsung Toronto hero
Mike McCoy – down + up again, good OBP, useful professional
Eric Thames – spark plug, confident, room for improvement in SO/BB ratio
- Ricky Romero (26)
- Brandon Morrow (26)
- Brett Cecil (25)
- Carlos Villanueva (27)
- Jo Jo Reyes (26)
- Brad Mills (26) – Las Vegas
- Jesse Litsch (26) – Las Vegas
- Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
- Zach Stewart (24) – New Hampshire
- Dustin McGowan (29) – Dunedin
- Scott Richmond (31) – Las Vegas
- Joel Carreno (24) – New Hampshire
- Henderson Alvarez (21) – New Hampshire
- Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
- Deck McGuire (21) – Dunedin
- Nestor Molina (22) – Dunedin
- Reidier Gonzalez (25) – Las Vegas
- Mike MacDonald (29) – Las Vegas
- Chad Beck (26) – New Hampshire
- Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin
3. Brett Cecil – June 30, 6.1 IP, 6 ER, defensive lapses
5. Jo Jo Reyes – July 3, 6.0 IP, 4 ER
6. Brad Mills – July 2, 7 IP, 2 ER
7. Jesse Litsch – July 4, 3 IP, 7 ER
8. Kyle Drabek – June 30, 6 IP, 1 ER, 0 BB
9. Zach Stewart – July 3, 6 IP, O ER (3 R)
10. Dustin McGowan – July 2, 33 pitches, 2/3 IP, 3 ER, defensive lapses
Following his 30-day rehabilitation, if he is not yet ready to rejoin the Blue Jays, McGowan may rest and/or start a new 30-day rehab stint.
Jesse Litsch barrels along the comeback trail, making the jump from Lansing to New Hampshire. His two starts for the Double-A Fisher Cats have bested the one in A-ball the previous week, where he gave up three runs in two(+) innings of work.
After 3.2 shutout innings June 23, Litsch lasted five innings and gave up one run June 28. His next start will likely take place in a Las Vegas 51s uniform.
The question, however, is whether the Jays starting rotation will a have a space available for Litsch when he is ready. With Villanueva pitching so reliably, I would be inclined to think not yet.
If anyone gets the yank, it should be Jo Jo Reyes, especially if his next start ends as soon as his last one did (3.2 IP, 6 ER).
The .363 blog posted an interesting take yesterday on the shelf life of Jo Jo.
Brad Mills, June 26, went six innings for the 51s, allowing four earned runs, days before getting passed up for a Toronto promotion. Though he seems to have hit a bit of a rough patch in the Pacific Coast League, statistically, he remains at the top among all starting pitchers there:
3.72 ERA (3rd), 101.2 IP (2nd), 1.28 WHIP (2nd), 92 SO (1st)
Brett Cecil, June 23, also went six innings for the 51s in his last start, allowing five earned runs. The Jays called him up anyway June 29. Cecil’s velocity has returned, touching 93 and averaging 89 mph, which returns the 6-10 mph differential considered necessary for an effective change-up.
Discounting two God-awful performances for Las Vegas, Cecil has almost matched Brad Mills in core performance measurements. Cecil also has something Mills may never have: a 15 win season at the major league level.
In related news, the Zach Stewart flirtation is over. See you in September, Zach. New Hampshire’s lucky to have you. I’m sure you will be fighting hard for your return and a pass to a proper rookie season in 2012.
I still think his ticket ought to include a pass through Las Vegas.
Upon being reactivated to the 25-man roster, Cecil alluded to the very real difference between pitching in the Pacific Coast and Majors, saying he had never had to base pitch selection on which way the wind is blowing. Perhaps it is that sort of thing the Jays want to avoid with Zach Stewart, having returned him to the Fisher Cats of the Double-A Eastern League.
Only nine PCL starting pitchers now hold an ERA below 4.00, while just 27 have ERA below 5.00 in the 16-team league.
Among them, the Jays forgettable 5th starter of Spring 2010, Dana Eveland, is enjoying a bit of success in that league. His 7-4 record and 3.86 ERA through 16 starts (91 IP) for the Albuquerue Isotopes may serve to give the 27-year-old another shot with a major league club. Just so long as it’s not with the Jays, preferably with an AL East squad. Eveland went 3-4 with a 6.45 ERA in 44.2 IP before the Jays traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ronald Uviedo, June 1, 2010.
As regards another former 5th starter, I would be shocked to ever see Scott Richmond start a regular season game for the Blue Jays. The #3 man in Las Vegas, has gone 4-6 with a 6.26 ERA and given up 14 HR in hitter-friendly air. In my estimation, the April 2009 MLB rookie of the month, now sits 11th in the organization’s depth chart.
My characterization of depth chart is one of constant malleability that considers current performance, health, and major league readiness as its main criteria, but also takes into account perceived statistical blips and temporary setbacks, such as in the case of Brett Cecil. My top five, though not in the same order as Bluejays. com or Torontostar. com, will not include players outside the starting rotation.
That said, when Litsch was still with the Lansing Lugnuts and Cecil still finding his form with the Las Vegas 51s, I believe Brad Mills was the most deserving candidate to take on the spot surrendered by Kyle Drabek.
Since Mark Rzepczynski has adjusted so well to his new role as lefty-specialist in middle relief, I’ve left him off this list.
- Ricky Romero
- Brandon Morrow
- Brett Cecil
- Carlos Villanueva
- Jo Jo Reyes
- Jesse Litsch
- Brad Mills
- Kyle Drabek
- Zach Stewart
- Dustin McGowan
- Scott Richmond
Kyle Drabek – heart on sleeve, raging bull of emotion on the mound, wild
Brett Cecil – fastball down to 90 mph, 8 HRs allowed in 4 starts before demotion
Jo Jo Reyes – 26-game winless streak snapped, emotions in check, weak pick-off move
Jesse Litsch – fastball + compete-level return, rotation spot deserved when healthy
Brandon Morrow – slow start, potent arsenal, control a work in progress
Carlos Villaneuva – good stuff, reliable from bullpen, exceeding expectations as starter
Sean Camp – ground ball out master, outstanding April/ May, rocky June
Jason Frasor – painstakingly deliberate approach, sure hand, best season pace
John Rauch – shades of K-Gregg, less careful, Jays best closer not saying much
Mark Rzepczynski – odd man out, smooth transition to pen, control issues lately
Casey Jannssen – bullpen stud, return to 2007 form, confident presence
Octavio Dotel – ineffective, innings eater during big losses, oldest man in pen
Frank Francisco – power + unreliability, below average closer
Luis Perez – helpful middle relief, verdict still out, given small sample-size
Aaron Hill – stats split difference between 2009 and 2010 season, too cautious
Adam Lind – back in the saddle again, Indiana boy in perfect spot behind Bautista
Travis Snider – lack of confidence, swing kinks, walk to strikeout ratio improved
Jason Nix – clutch hitting in April, non-existent May, battling Mendoza line
Jose Molina –calm in eye of storm, excellent back-up catcher, hitting well
Corey Patterson – less than smart base running, seeing good pitches
Jose Bautista – BA + OBP + OPS off the charts, home run mastery
J.P. Arencibia – great rookie production, ability + rapport with pitchers improving
Rajai Davis – speed, nice addition, injury riddled, wait and see
Edwin Encarnacion – defensive liability, disappeared home run production
Yunel Escobar – great start overall, occasional odd no-throw decisions
Juan Rivera – horrendous start, rebounded offensively, first base fill-in admirable
John McDonald – decreased production, no fearful demeanour, usual infield brilliance
Mike McCoy – future John McDonald, reliable + energetic uber-utility man
May 20, 2011 (pregame)
It’s still early. Competition is fierce. But the Blue Jays sit just one game out of the wild card spot. When the extent of its injuries and slumps are measured, this club is exceeding expectations overall.
The Yankees reeling over the Jorge Posada soap opera, their core talent aging well out of its prime, such things could develop into real liabilities. An average age of 25.6, the Jays starting rotation, with all its depth and talent, matches up favourably against those of all division rivals, especially that of the grey-beards in pin-stripes. See average age of 32. Each Yankee starter exceeds 30, apart from the 23-year-old Ivan Nova. The match up bodes well for our rivalry levelling out in the future. How close to now is that future?
This could really be the year, the first since 1993, the Jays finish above the Yankees.
The Jays will show marked improvement, if they break even in interleague play this year.
All time- 115-132, 2008- 8-10, 2009- 7-11, and 2010- 7-11
In the world of WHAT IFs, a mere four-game swing last season to 11-7, all (other) things being equal, would have kept the Blue Jays in the fight for the wild last September.
May 20, 2011 (postgame)
Astros 5, Jays 2
UGH. Almost-wins are a tough pill to swallow. Frank Francisco appears to be suffering from the K-Gregg Syndrome, an inability to pitch well in back-to-back games. Rookie manager and de-facto team psychologist (Dr.) John Farrell misdiagnosed his team’s symptoms and did not follow procedure when he brought in the would-be closer in a non-save situation. The powerful yet thus far unreliable Francisco promptly allowed the Astros three runs. Mark Rzepcynski or Sean Camp might have been the more logical choice with the game tied 2-2.
Blue Jay hitting continues to suffer its Achilles Heel with runners in scoring position. While hard luck starter Jo Jo Reyes stepped up, shutting down the Astros over 7 innings and giving his team a chance to win, John Rauch blew the save and a 2-0 lead in the 8th inning. Interleague woes still pain us. Reyes appear infected by chronic winlessitis. Mr. Rauch came into the game with a 2.70 ERA, took a beating, and left it with a 3.57. Ouch.
May 14, 2011 (pregame)
I am surprised by the continuing presence of Jo Jo Reyes in the starting rotation. The Jays were patient with Brandon Morrow, and that has paid off, but when a pitcher goes 25 straight starts without a victory, shouldn’t some sort of cut off date be established? If he fails to secure a win by the end of the month, wouldn’t it then be time to give someone else a go? My vote would go to for Brad Mills, although Brett Cecil has turned things around in Las Vegas since a disastrous first start there.
Jays 9, Twins 3
May 14, 2011 (post-game)
While it’s true, he didn’t pitch badly tonight, and he’s pitched well enough to win on at least two occasions this year, the fact is that Jo Jo Reyes has not held his leads. What does it say about your mettle as a pitcher when your team stakes you a 1-0 lead, and you go out and immediately give up two runs in the 1st inning? He allowed five earned runs his last start.
How long do the Jays allow the winless streak to go on, 26 now and counting?
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Granted, it’s not so cut and dry when considering pitcher’s W-L record as a measure of his contribution. The example of Felix Hernandez: 9-11, 3.45 ERA (2008) and 13-12, 2.27 (2010) springs to mind, as an example of the this statistic’s limitation. But to dismiss it completely is impractical. For example, W-L can suggest and confirm, in some cases, a pitcher’s ability to hold on to a lead. The Hernandez example is more of an exception than a rule. One sees on every pitching staff how solid ERA and W-L record so often correlate.
As for Felix Hernandez, he is a great pitcher, as is Ricky Romero, and peripheral stats quantify that. A pitcher needs his team to show up to notch a win, and a team needs its pitcher to show up to notch a win. Pitchers, and as a result their teams, often lose when they don’t pitch well. That simple fact of the game, imperfect statistically though it is, has a lot to do with how many losses a pitcher accumulates.
While Reyes contributes more than winless in 26 games would suggest, the streak does reflect, to some extent, an inability to contribute enough. Baseball includes both tangibles and intangibles, perfect and imperfect measurements. To say that Wins have no bearing on the nature of a pitcher’s contribution dismisses the importance of those games, especially when the season is on the line, where he is called upon to pitch with a lead, sometimes a slight one, and hold on to it. Peripheral stats be damned.
This by no means pretends to be an argument against sabermetrics, nor to trumpet the W-L stat above all others, far from it.
I would not argue that the Wins stat is more important than ERA. Those seasons when Nolan Ryan (1987) and Felix Hernandez posted excellent ERAs and weak .500 W-L records show us a limitation in measuring pitcher’s contribution by Wins alone, but they don’t disprove all relevance of the Wins stat. How could they?
Deeming the Wins stat relevant does not mean ignore everything else (ERA, IP, WHIP, SO and others). A number of stats should be taken as a whole to measure a pitcher’s contribution, wins included.
But back to Reyes: what is an acceptable point at which to remove a winless pitcher from a MLB starting rotation? Every general manager must have one. Even when he may not be completely responsible for every loss, the Reyes extreme does show an inability to contribute enough.
And his peripheral stats reflect this losing record, like they do with so many other pitchers with losing records. More to come.