What would you do Wednesday is something we do each week at the other Nation Network sites that I figured I would bring to Blue Jays Nation.
I’ll ask a question and everybody suggest what they would do if they were in a position of control
in order to diminish the reality that we have no agency in the happenings of this team we invest a tremendous amount of passion and energy into.
This week’s question is about Joe Biagini. He’s one of the more (only???) polarizing topics this year at spring training. I think that the roster is largely set save for, like, which veteran reliever is going to crack the team and which middle infielder is going to fill in for the injured Troy Tulowitzki.
It isn’t outright said anywhere, but general wisdom suggests that the front office likes the idea of Joe Biagini as starter while John Gibbons wants him as a weapon out of the bullpen. Last year, Gibby said he envisions Biagini as a dominant reliever and Ross Atkins said he likes him in a hybrid scenario.
Ultimately, in 2017, Atkins’ vision for Biagini came into fruition. He started the year in the ‘pen, but then when the rotation imploded and Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and Francisco Liriano all got injured within like a two-week span, Biagini was thrusted into the rotation. He had a good start, then struggled, then got put back in the ‘pen. In August, he was sent to Triple-A Buffalo to stretch out as a starter and came back up to ride out September in the rotation.
Here are his numbers as a starter and as a reliever in his two seasons in the Major Leagues:
This year, Biagini rolled into spring in noticeably better shape and with a change in his delivery and an objective to work quicker and with better rhythm. His time in the rotation was a rollercoaster last year, but maybe there’s reason to believe he can be better this year.
So, what would you do? Put Biagini in the bullpen where, as we saw in 2016, he can be really good? Or stretch him out as a starter as both insurance for this year and beyond?
There’s certainly an argument for each side.
If you put Biagini in the ‘pen, you have a weapon who can toss two innings and make the path from the starter to Roberto Osuna much shorter. While Danny Barnes and Ryan Tepera were quite good last year, relievers are extremely volatile and there’s no guarantee they’ll be as effective this year.
If you start him in Triple-A Buffalo, you have insurance for Aaron Sanchez and his terrifying blister, Marcus Stroman and his shoulder issue, and Jaime Garcia who, for all we know, could be a pumpkin. Beyond that, the Jays only have Sanchez, Stroman, and Garcia as big league starters signed into next season, so the team does need more options for the 2019 rotation. While you would be taking away an asset from this year’s bullpen, you’d also be developing an asset for the rotation of the future.