Our fearless leader is most definitely correct: Baseball is stupid. During fielding drills on Tuesday, Marcus Stroman tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2015 season. The Blue Jays, who were really hoping for a 2015 breakout from Stroman, have become the latest team affected by the Curse of Jonah. So what do they do now that their young ace is on the shelf?
I mentioned on my Blue Jays preview last month that Stroman was expected to become the ace of the staff, get to 200 innings, had top-flight comparables with his pitches, was going to cure cancer, etc. But without someone like Stroman in the rotation, the Blue Jays have to fill in the gap. The majority of projection systems have Stroman as a 3-4 win player, which, if you put that into context with what the Blue Jays are expected to do this season, puts them in the thick of the Wild Card race. It’s a big hole to fill, but surprisingly enough, it looks like the team will have some good options.
After speculation as to whether he would start in the bullpen or on the mound, top prospect Aaron Sanchez has been used as a starter so far this spring, and it looks like he will start the season as one of the last two guys in the rotation. This is a great move for the team, as Sanchez has tremendous value as a starter if he proves himself worthy, and even if he doesn’t, there are fallback options. This has now opened things up for Daniel Norris to step in right away as the team’s fifth starter, but asking two youngsters like that to shore up your rotation is a tough thing to do. Both have high ceilings, but if one falters, that means Marco Estrada or Johan Santana would be the next in line. Estrada hasn’t been setting the world on fire and Santana shouldn’t even be ready by Opening Day.
So a starting rotation featuring Dickey, Buehrle, Hutchison, Sanchez, and Norris looks to be in the cards, with Estrada and Santana ready to take over should one of the young guys falter. That’s where Plan B comes into play.
While not as loaded as they once were, Toronto’s farm system is still highly regarded, and should the youngsters not come through, there are plenty of pitchers on the market that can help out right now, especially if Alex Anthopolous believes it’s a make or break season. It very well might be, too, as he’s on the final year of his contract along with team president Paul Beeston. One look at the 2016 crop of free agent pitchers suggests plenty of big names available in a trade, and Anthopolous has traded for the most players over the past five seasons. Johnny Cueto and Doug Fister are two names that come to mind right away, but the Reds won’t punt on the season before it starts and Washington really wants its starting rotation to work itself out, even with Tanner Roark ready to take over for Fister should he be traded.
The biggest problem with all this? Once again, a major injury to a pitcher has left a team and its fanbase without someone who many people were excited to see this season. We love baseball. But baseball is stupid.