Sunday, March 31, 2013

Opening Week Pitching Situation

So, to prove that my writing up of the player profiles is not a completely futile activity, I had a little mental sojourn while working on Brett Cecil's profile that I think merits its own short blog.
Photo: Mike Cassese, Reuters

I was trying to prognosticate what would happen with the Jays' 8-man bullpen throughout this first week as Brett Lawrie recovers from his oblique injury.  The first thought was about what the Jays are going to do with Lawrie.  Does he come back right away?  Does he get farmed out for a rehab assignment?

If the Jays are serious about getting him back in the lineup right away, he'll have been getting into some minor league games this past week (but I haven't heard any reports of that).  Is he going to just go from BP down in Florida to live "real-deal" MLB game action?  My thoughts are that he'll probably stay in Florida, play in three or four games down in Dunedin on a rehab assignment and then return to the Jays mid-way through the second week of April at the earliest.

But what happens to the pitching as this all goes down?  There are three pitchers who are kind of "on-the-bubble" and out of options.  All three of Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Esmil Rogers are considered the long guys after the three back-end guys (Janssen, Santos, Delabar), Black Magic (Darren Oliver), and lefty-specialist Aaron Loup have all got jobs sewn up.

The question of who gets sent out, and in which manner, when Lawrie comes back will have to be decided within the first two weeks of the season.  Obviously their performances are going to have something to do with it, but with the depth that the Jays have in the starting rotation, and the late-inning pitchers already decided, when are THREE EXTRA bullpen guys going to get to pitch?

So, my feeling is that John Gibbons is going to be a little extra cautious with his starters to start the season.  I would not expect to see any of them pitch more than six innings in any one start at the beginning of the season unless they are really dominating.  This will be done for two reasons: the first is to protect their arms, and not tax them too much too early, and the second will be to allow the Jays to showcase all three of Jeffress, Cecil, and Rogers.

My hunch is that the Jays are going to try to trade one of them by the time that Lawrie returns to the team.  Which one?  Whomever they can get the most for.  Personally, I've seen the least positive results from Jeffress, who has the most upside.  The Jays need to get something for Rogers, because if they don't, it will be like they gave up their manager for nothing.*

I think Cecil has the most value at this point.  He's got the most successful major league experience, he's a lefty, and he has experience starting.

So, what do you think?  Are these three guys going to be showcased as trade bait?  Which is the most likely to be traded?  Who would bring the most back for the team?


* Don't think too hard about the logic of this last sentence.

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