Photo Credit: Twitter.com/JAHappster

Rotation Review, Vol. 5: Jays Ace Happ to the rescue

Well, that was bad. After JA Happ and Aaron Sanchez both had solid outings, it was then followed up with disastrous outings from Estrada, Stroman and Garcia. Overall, the team went 1-4 this turn around, and responded by adding some bullpen relief by optioning Devon Travis to Buffalo and recalling Carlos Ramirez.

J.A. Happ

7.0 IP, 4H, 1ER, 0BB, 10K, 0HR, 81 GS

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Season: 5GS, 29.0IP, 12.72 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, 1.55 HR/9, 86 ERA-

Going by game score, this was the best start for the Blue Jays this year. Happ continued to do what made him effective this year, giving hitters a steady diet of fastballs and mixing in his slider to keep them honest. He used his slider two generate two strikeouts against the left-handed hitting Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., and got seven others on fastballs. This was also the first start for Happ in which he didn’t surrender a home run, something that will hopefully happen a bit more often. He sits first in the AL in K/9, despite previously never posting a mark above 9.00 in his career.

Aaron Sanchez

6.0 IP, 3H, 2ER, 2BB, 8K, 1HR, 62 GS

Season: 5GS, 31.2IP, 6.54 K/9, 4.26 BB/9, 0.57 HR/9, 85 ERA-

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It was an encouraging start from Aaron, in that he generated some strikeouts (against the 4th best team in K%, no less), while keeping his walks down. After a couple of starts where his fastball velocity was a bit of a concern, he was back to sitting consistently around 94, even at the end of his outing. His pitch usage remained in line with his other outings this year, although Brooks Baseball classified many more of his hard pitches as four-seamers than usual, so it’s possible he sacrificed a bit of movement in order to get more control.

Marco Estrada

5.0 IP, 8H, 5ER, 1BB, 5K, 1HR, 36 GS

Season: 5GS, 27.0IP, 7.67 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 2.33 HR/9, 138 ERA-

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Marco got off to a pretty nice start, but came undone towards the end of his third start against the Orioles, reporting back issues. His last two starts after that have both been bad, leading me to wonder if they are continuing to plague him. His velocity isn’t down, and his changeup movement hasn’t declined significantly, but hitters have been making contact on over 80% of their swings in his last two starts. I noted in an earlier piece how he’s been pitching up in the zone slightly more this year, and if his back is indeed causing issues, this could indeed lead to his command being slightly off, causing more pitches to be in hittable spots.

Marcus Stroman

5.1 IP, 8H, 6ER, 1BB, 4K, 1HR, 34 GS

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Season: 5GS, 25.1IP, 8.88 K/9, 5.33 BB/9, 1.07 HR/9, 205 ERA-

Another disastrous outing from Stro lands his ERA at an even 8.88, which, after five starts, continues to grow more concerning with each outing. On the bright side, this was his best start in terms of reducing walks. He still gave up a fair bit of hard contact, and a lot less groundballs than usual for him. Leaving pitches over the middle has been his Achillies’ heel this year.

Is that good?

Jaime Garcia

5.0 IP, 5H, 5ER, 4BB, 5K, 2HR, 30 GS

Season: 5GS, 26.2IP, 9.45 K/9, 4.05 BB/9, 2.36 HR/9, 125 ERA-

Garcia struck out his first four batters before suddenly giving up three runs before getting out of the second. He’s been giving up a lot of hard contact, and if you’re walking a lot of batters, those two will combine to produce results like we’ve seen. He’s the fifth starter, so of the three under-performers, his is least impactful, but he still needs to be better.

The Jays will look to avoid a sweep against Texas (spoiler alert: they did), and then will roll into Minnesota for three against the Twins before a doubleheader against Cleveland on Thursday.

  • Knuckleballs

    Not much to say. Hitting and scoring runs was making up for under performing starting pitching along with a solid bullpen. But when scoring runs become an issue and your starters are still trying to figure it out, winning games becomes a challenge. At least the jays will finish the mont of April above 500. The yanks and b Sox are starting to pull away so let’s stay close as possible