It’ll actually be Ryan Feierabend starting Saturday, not Clayton Richard

Clayton Richard was with the Blue Jays when the team arrived in Chicago to open up their four-game series with the White Sox on Thursday, so everyone assumed that he would be making his season debut on Saturday. It turns out that isn’t the case. Instead, lefty knuckleballer Ryan Feierabend will be getting the start.

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He isn’t currently on the 40-man, so the Jays will need to make a corresponding transaction to add Feierabend to the roster. The easiest thing, I figure, would be to DFA Javy Guerra again.

Feierabend was an interesting under-the-radar minor league signing the Jays made right at the beginning of spring training. He pitched in the majors with Seattle between 2006 and 2008, spent five full seasons in the minors, and then pitched with Texas in 2014. Feierabend spent the last four seasons pitching in Korea where he worked on the art of the knuckleball.

Jay Jaffe over at FanGraphs wrote a feature about Feierabend back when the Jays signed him, making the knuckleballer seem much more interesting than your standard, mid-30s minor league depth signing.

Since adding the knuckler, Feierabend has used it as an out pitch. Last year, he threw it 26.8% of the time when he was ahead in the count and 23.4% when he got to two strikes; by comparison his numbers for his changeup were 23.1% and 18.4%, respectively. If you needed further evidence of his confidence in the pitch, the splits say that there are negligible differences in the frequency with which he throws it when there are runners on base and when the bases are empty, or when the batter is a righty or a lefty.

In three starts (16 2/3 innings) with Triple-A Buffalo, Feierabend has surrendered just five earned runs on 15 hits and six walks while recording 13 strikeouts. The one sort of alarming number would be his three home runs surrendered, but, all in all, the numbers are decent over a small sample size. I mean, he’s doing better than pretty much everyone else in Buffalo.

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It’s only the middle of May and the Jays are reaching really, really far into the depths of their pitching bucket to patch together a starting rotation. With Ryan Borucki, Clay Buchholz, Matt Shoemaker, Richard, and now possibly Aaron Sanchez on the shelf, the Jays only have one pitcher from their expecting starting rotation currently available.

The worst part about all of this is that, as I said earlier, none of the prospects in Buffalo are warranting a promotion. Sean Reid-Foley, Jacob Waguespack, Jordan Romano, and David Paulino are all having difficult seasons and haven’t earned a chance to capitalize on this opportunity. Hopefully Feierabend can.

  • Mose

    Really disappointed with the Jays this year…. from ownership through management down…

    Visited Dunedin for the 1st time after experiencing 6 + other Cactus/Grapefruit league venues, and Dunedin was easily the least compelling overall fan experience of all. And the planned renos don’t change the basic facts that make Dunedin a very poor vanilla compared to funky cool flavors the other clubs provide. But maybe others see Rocky Road where I see freezer burn and stale cones…

    The Jays have not built an MLB starting rotation that can compete. No surprise that Shoemaker, Bucholtz and Sanchez are DL candidates again. It will not be a shock when Clayton Richard gets pummelled in the AL East once he is healthy. Tough break for Borucki – hopefully good health and his fastball command return soon. Perhaps some found money in Thorton, so long as he isn’t pushed too far too fast.

    And the Jays need to do more. Get off your wallet and get find/trade/sign some SP that can compete. Finding an servicable Edwin Jackson is a decent start. And no, Dallas Keuchel isn’t what I’m proposing. Is it too much to ask for a league average pitcher to toe the bump daily? Perhaps the Jays should hire a certain Humungous to find value…

    The Jays have/had an established fan base that would love to come out and/or watch, and you’re making it painfully difficult for us. No more #Fireupabender. Please. We can’t take it. Our livers can’t take it. You know your team is bad when you’re switching from beer to rye before the 3rd inning….

    How much pressure you think the young Jay’s hitters are feeling when they are consistently behind on the scoreboard? This can’t be good for their development… no?!

    Does Rogers know that once the Raptors finish their playoff run (hopefully later than sooner), there are still four months of baseball….

    Please Rogers. Please Shapiro, Atkins, et al. Please do what is necessary to make the Jays and enjoyable piece of our summer.

    Or said differently, please don’t force me to watch CFL football….