Toronto Blue JaysOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Toronto Blue Jays Team Projection
To wrap up my analysis of the AL East, here are my fantasy baseball player profiles of the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff.
1. SP Brandon Morrow
Morrow looked like he had electric upside heading into 2013, but a poor spring training was an early signal that he was in for a disappointing season. Brandon only pitched well in 3 of his 10 starts, which led to a poor ERA (5.63) and WHIP (1.491). He developed a forearm strain in late May that led to him missing the rest of the season. In late June, he was diagnosed with a entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm that didn't require surgery. His AFB (93.3) was slightly stronger than 2012. Morrow throws a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by a solid changeup. He struggled locating his pitches, which led to a huge HR/9 rate (2.0). Almost all of the damage was done by LH batters (.301 with 10 HR's in 123 at bats). Morrow should enter spring training healthy, but he is going to be really tough to trust. He has plus K ability (9.2 in his career), which gives him upside if he stays healthy. His walk rate (3.0) has improved over the last 2 seasons, but his K rate (7.0) was a career low in 2013. Morrow has a career 4.22 ERA, so maybe he slips through the cracks to be severely discounted on draft day. As a number #5 or #6 starter, the downside risk has been eliminated, unless he totally bombs. He has talent with high injury risk, so it really comes down to price point.
2. SP R.A. Dickey
Winning in fantasy baseball can be as simple as knowing when to get on and off a player. Dickey made fantasy players a ton of money by his surprising 2012 season, but he crushed everyone's dreams who bought into his success. The move to the AL was a clear problem. He had a huge HR rate (1.4) and threw a lot less strikes (65% - 69% in 2012). This led to a decline in his walk rate (2.8) and K rate (7.1). Dickey is a knuckle ball pitcher, but his high innings total in 2012 may have been the reason his velocity dropped last year (FB - 81.9 and KB - 75.6). Both pitches lost 1.5 mph from the previous season. R.A. did find his rhythm over the last 2 months of the season (3.35 ERA with 66 K's in 78 innings). Lefties hit 23 HR's off of him in 463 at bats (11 in 2012 in 386 at bats). In 2012, he faced 46.6% lefties, but he faced 54.2% lefties in 2013. His struggles in the first half (4.69 ERA) were mainly due to poor command (3.3 walk rate - 2.3 after the All Star break). His ERA was 3.94 with Josh Thole as his catcher (over 4.60 with Blanco and Arencibia behind the plate). Last year, Dickey pitched at least 6 innings in 30 of his 34 starts, so he should get his fair share of wins. Knuckle ball pitchers can have long stretches of dominance and inconsistency. Dickey probably isn't as bad as last year, but he'll never pitch as well as he did in 2012. Maybe 3.75 ERA with 175 K's.
3. SP Mark Buehrle
Buehrle has pitched 200+ innings in his last 13 seasons. In 2013, his K rate (6.1) was his highest since 2004, but his walk rate (2.3) was also his highest since 2003. Righties hit .283 against him with 17 HR's. Mark struggled over the first 2 months of the year (5.51 ERA). He went 10-2 over 17 starts in June, July, and August with a 2.97 ERA before fading again in September (5.84 ERA). Buehrle was a much better pitcher at home (3.36 ERA - 4.94 on the road). His AFB (84.2) was a career low and it has declined in each of the past 3 seasons. Last year, he threw his cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a plus changeup. His lack of strikeouts will kill a fantasy team over the long haul and he really doesn't have high upside in wins, even with plus starts. He has no value on draft day, but he could be serviceable at times as a double starter.
4. SP J.A. Happ
There's a whole lot of ugly on Happ's resume heading into 2014. His ERA has been 4.90 in his last 74 games in the majors. His K rate (7.5) is on the decline and his walk rate (4.4) is down right unacceptable for a major league starter. Last year, he missed 3 months of the season after getting hit in the head by a line drive on May 7th. J.A. allowed 3 runs or less in 11 of his 18 starts, but he only pitched into the 7th inning 3 times. He can't get lefties out (.304) and his command is brutal against righties. For some reason, he did pitch well in his 9 starts at home (3.86 ERA). His AFB (91.1) was the highest of his career and it has improved in each season during his major league career. His 2nd best pitch is a changeup. He threw it at a much higher velocity last year (84.1 - 81.5 in his career). Happ also throws a slider and curve ball. Happ showed some upside in 2009 (2.93 ERA in 166 innings), but hasn't been able to throw strikes since. His command is his big issue. His K rate (7.6) may have upside with a huge jump in command. Lefties tend to have 9 lives, so I wouldn't right him off just yet, but a fantasy player should have a real short leash with him. It would be tough to expect him to keep a starting job for the Blue Jays all season.
5. SP Kyle Drabek
Drabek was able to make it back to the majors after having a 2nd Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June of 2012. He pitched very well in the minors (3.14 ERA) with improved command (1.3). His success led to a September call up as a reliever. He was electric in one 2 inning stint against the Orioles when he allowed no base runners with 3 K's. He struggled in his other 2 outings (6 base runners and 2 runs in 1/3 of an inning). Overall, he only threw 47% strikes and 14% first pitch strikes with Toronto. His AFB (93.0) looked to be all the way back. He threw a curve ball as his #2 pitch, followed by a solid changeup. Drabek has some upside if he can throw strikes. His walk rate is 5.8 in his major league career and only has 4 more K's (113) than BB's (109) during his major league career. Drabek needs more time to develop in the majors, and his command is a huge reason to avoid him. Kyle has worked hard to get back to the majors, but isn't ready to make a fantasy impact. His innings will be capped this season.
6. SP Marcus Stroman
Toronto doesn't have a ton of talent in their starting pitching rotation or at AAA. Last year, Stroman pitched very well at AA. He has a mid 90's fastball with a solid changeup (plus a slider and cutter). He pitched in the bullpen in 2012 to limit his innings. Last year, he was suspended for 50 games for a banned substance. Stroman does lack size, so his future may be in the bullpen (maybe as a closer). He handled himself well as starter in 2013 with plus command (2.2) and a high K rate (10.4). He'll start the year at AAA and I expect him to be in the majors by mid summer.
7. SP Sean Nolin
Nolin only has 17.7 innings on his AAA resume, but he pitched well enough to make it to the majors for 1 start in 2013. Unfortunately, he was drilled by the Astros over 1.1 innings (8 base runners and 6 runs). His command (2.7) did improve over the last 2 seasons, but he struggled with walks at AAA (5.1) which led to a low K rate (6.6). Overall, his K rate (9.6) has been solid during his minor league career. His AFB was 89.2 in his one appearance in the majors. Sean's 2nd best pitch is his changeup. Nolin isn't a high upside player, but he is 19-4 in his last 2 seasons in the minors. His big body has some similarities to Mark Buehrle. He'll start the year at AAA.
8. CL Casey Janssen
Janssen has done a very good job as the Blue Jays closer over the last 2 seasons. He has converted 56 of 61 save chances. His command (2.2 and K rate (8.5) declined from his 2012 season and has a 2.46 ERA over the last 3 seasons with a 0.977 WHIP. Casey was dominant against RH batters (.135). His AFB (90.1) has declined in back to back seasons. He throws a cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a curve ball. Last year, Janssen never pitched more than 1 inning in any game. This will limit his upside in K's and possibly wins. It's his job to lose, but I'd like to see him pitching more innings and save over 40 games. He seems to be a safe backend option.
9. RP Sergio Santos
Santos developed a triceps injury in mid April, which later led to surgery in mid May to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. He missed 3 and 1/2 months of the season. When he returned, Sergio pitched at a high level (1.68 ERA) over the last 2 months of the year. He had excellent command (1 walk) with plus K's (13) in 10 innings in September and was tough to hit (2 hits). His AFB (94.6) was a slight step back from his previous seasons. Santos threw a slider a career high 42.7% of the time. Overall, he had the best command (1.4) of his career with a solid K rate (9.8). If he is healthy, he has the skill set to close. It might make sense to back up Janssen with Santos early in the year.
10. RP Steve Delabar
Delabar battled a shoulder issue over the first half of the season that led to a DL stint in early August. He had a couple of stretches last year where he was electric (24 K's in 10 innings from June 7th to July 1st and 11 K's in 4.2 innings in late July. Steve has an elite fastball (94.7). He throws a changeup as his #2 pitch, followed by a slider. Delabar has poor command (4.4) and needs to make a step forward if he is ever going to be considered to close. His K rate (12.6) has been electric during his major league career. He is a slightly better pitcher against LH batters (.216). Last year, Steve had a 7.20 ERA after the All Star break. He has an arm to watch.