Blue Jays look for right mix with shaky staff
Estrada replaces Norris in rotation; Delabar and Jenkins called up from Minors
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' pitching staff has left a lot to be desired during the first month of the season, and the club will need drastically improved results in order to be taken seriously in the American League East.
Toronto entered play on Monday with an MLB-worst 5.13 ERA this year. One of the main reasons for the high number can be found in the 100 walks, which ranks behind Philadelphia (105) for the most in baseball.
The other stats also don't paint a pretty picture, with opponents batting .276 (28th in the Majors), along with 139 innings from the starters, which sits at 19th in baseball. Everyone shares responsibility in the woeful performance, with Drew Hutchison, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Aaron Sanchez all struggling to varying degrees.
"We have not thrown the ball well from the rotation; we haven't gotten innings out of the rotation," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Monday afternoon. "Our offense has carried us, I think that goes without saying, but these guys are all capable of going on a run and getting a lot better."
The prolonged issues have already led to a series of roster moves. Rookie left-handed starter Daniel Norris was sent to Triple-A, and he has since been replaced by veteran swingman Marco Estrada, who will make his first start of the year on Tuesday against the Yankees.
There also have been a number of changes to the bullpen, with Steve Delabar and Chad Jenkins called up late Sunday night to take the spots of rookie Miguel Castro and Scott Copeland. The game of musical chairs likely will continue until the Blue Jays find some level of consistency to accompany a strong lineup.
One scenario that likely won't happen for at least another month and a half is Anthopoulos looking for solutions outside the organization. There have been some people calling for an early-season move to fix the pitching situation, but Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays will continue looking for internal candidates because it isn't really the time of the year when other teams are willing to make a big deal.
"I think we're always going to be open to that, but realistically, I think the soonest you see deals is mid-June, and that's after the Draft," Anthopoulos said. "A few reasons for that, anyone signed in the offseason as a free agent cannot be traded until mid-June without their consent.
"The other component, too, is very few clubs are ready to make any determinations. I think I've counted maybe very few clubs that came out to start the season and said, 'Look, we're going to rebuild or retool ... right at the outset of the season' and were that transparent."