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Rotation Review, Vol. 6: Marcus Stroman had his best start of the season

Shit, you guys. I’m officially worried about Estrada and Garcia. On the bright side, Happ continued his solid season, and Stroman had a solid outing despite receiving no run support.

On the flip side, Estrada continued his worrying trend of giving up dingers, and Jaime Garcia had another complete disaster of an outing. Sanchez wasn’t overly inspiring either, having trouble missing bats and yielding plenty of hard contact. Joe Biagini also made a spot start in the second half of the doubleheader that never seemed to end, and I think we should be giving these spot starts to someone else. The offense has been able to pick up the slack (and the Twins are a joke), as the Jays went 4-2 this turn through, but if guys like Estrada and Garcia continue to not pitch deep, we’re going to see it continue to degrade the performance of the bullpen.

J.A. Happ

7.0 IP, 5H, 2R, 9K, 0BB, 1HR, 69 (nice) GS

Season: 6GS, 36.0 IP, 12.50 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, 1.50 HR/9, 79 ERA-

I’m in the midst of writing in more depth about this, but J.A. Happ continues to be a strikeout machine. He gave up a homer, which has been a recurring issue for him, but was still able to power his way through the game mowing guys down. I think the most impressive thing was that five of his nine Ks came on called third strikes.

Happ’s called third strikes

A couple of those are in juicy locations, but the Rangers still seemed to be caught off guard by fastballs. Happ tends to work up to get his strikeouts, so it’s possible the hitters saw the pitches low and thought they would be offspeed and got crossed up. Regardless, it’s great to see Happ being dominant and he hasn’t shown any signs of his strikeout rate slowing down.

Another thing I really like is we’re at two starts in a row where’s gone seven innings without walking anybody. J. A(ce). Happ, indeed.

Aaron Sanchez

6.0 IP, 6H, 4R, 2K, 3BB, 1HR, 42 GS

Season: 6GS, 37.2 IP, 5.97 K/9, 4.30 BB/9, 0.72 HR/9, 92 ERA-

It wasn’t a banner outing for Sanchez. He was able to escape the first three innings without giving up a run, despite loading the bases in the second. He didn’t look too great, giving up a ton of hard contact and getting some batted ball luck. He gave up runs in each of his final three innings, and ended the game with 59.1% of his batted balls being classified as hard contact, and opposing hitters making contact on 89.7% of pitches they swung at.

Marco Estrada

5.0 IP, 7H, 4R, 3K, 1BB, 2HR, 33 GS

Season: 6GS, 32.0 IP, 7.31 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 2.53 HR/9, 140 ERA-

Remember when we traded Lind for Estrada and we were all mad? And then we were wrong? In case you forgot, we were mad because he gave up lots of home runs during his stint in Milwaukee. He stopped doing that in his first two years here. He started to do it again last year. And he’s been absolutely killed by it this year. He currently sits dead last in HR/9 among qualified pitchers, and it’s not particularly close. (Jaime Garcia hasn’t pitched enough innings to be qualified, but if he did, he’d be second behind Estrada). In an earlier volume of this series, I talked about how Estrada had been transitioning to a high fastball instead of relying so heavily on his devastating changeup. However, it’s poor location of his fastball that’s been the root of his issues.

Estrada’s home run locations

I still wonder if a lingering back issue has flared up again, since he’s been pretty bad since he first mentioned it after a start in the Bronx. If that’s the case, he should probably take a DL stint and get better, because he can’t keep going like this.

Marcus Stroman

7.0 IP, 6H, 2R, 5K, 1BB, 1HR, 61 GS

Season: 6GS, 32.1 IP, 8.35 K/9, 4.45 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9, 170 ERA-

Stroman had a good outing! It was looking like the wheels were gonna fall off for a little while there, and during this time the state of Minnesota was testing their tornado warning sirens prompting plenty of good content on twitter dot com. Having already allowed a run in the second, Stroman loaded the bases with one out, but was able to get out with only one run surrendered. He then pitched a clean game after that, getting through seven innings.

Part of his success can be attributed to keeping his walks in check, only allowing one free pass. Another intriguing thing is he leaned heavily on his cutter for the first time all year. BrooksBaseball recorded the pitch being thrown 31 times, just behind his sinker (32). They had only tracked four pitches previously this season. It was effective, too, as the pitch contributed to 1.8 runs prevented above average, per FanGraphs. We’ll see if Stroman has found something in the pitch and can begin to turn it around.

Jaime Garcia

3.1 IP, 7H, 6R, 4K, 1BB, 1HR, 24 GS

Season: 6GS, 30.0 IP, 9.60 K/9, 3.90 BB/9, 2.40 HR/9, 150 ERA-

Ugh. Things started out fine for Garcia, getting through the first two innings untouched. Then the wheels fell off in the third, recording only one out and allowing six runs to come in before getting the hook. Like Estrada, he’s having trouble keeping the ball in the park, with a three-run dinger to Lindor being his ultimate demise. This is four not good starts from Garcia in a row, and he needs to figure it out soon.

Joe Biagini

4.1 IP, 10H, 6R, 4K, 1BB, 1HR, 24 GS

I like Joe, but he’ll never be a starter in the majors. The Jays could probably use him as a long man right now, so stashing him in Buffalo and trying to force him to be a starter doesn’t seem like a wise move. In games like these when you need a spot starter, Sam Gaviglio has been putting together a solid season in AAA Buffalo, and he’s on the 40-man. Deck McGuire is another option, but he’d need to have his contract purchased in order for that to happen.

He got through the first two innings without allowing a run, allowed one in each of the following two, then got lit up in the fifth inning, in which him and Luis Santos combined to yield nine runs. Basically, Joe can survive the first time through the order, but after that hitters tend to pick up on him.

The Jays roll into the house of horrors Tropicana Field for three against the Rays, before a much needed off day on Monday. After that, Stroman and Garcia will pitch against Seattle back at the dome to open up a run of 13 of 15 home games. Hopefully Happ strikes out 20, Sanchez remembers how to miss bats, Stroman keeps his cutter magic going, and Estrada and Garcia stop being trash.