Wednesday afternoon at the Rogers Centre was yet another rough day at the office for R.A. Dickey. It was the quintessential Dickey start as of late; several walks, a few defensive miscues and a home run to top it all off.
After that start by Dickey, many were ready to DFA Dickey on the spot. It turns out that game was pretty much on par for what R.A. Dickey has been not only this season, but his entire tenure as a Blue Jay.
While R.A. Dickey is somewhat struggling this season, the challenges for Marcus Stroman have been much greater. He entered the 2016 season as the de facto “ace” of the Blue Jays, but has since been relegated as the team’s fifth starter.
Despite the challenges for R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman, the Toronto Blue Jays still possess one of the best starting rotations in the American League. The Blue Jays’ 3.74 starting rotation ERA rank second in the American League and their 645 innings pitched lead all of baseball.
Marcus Stroman currently leads all of baseball with 74 earned runs on the season. R.A. Dickey is tied atop the list of pitchers who have surrendered the most home runs this season with 26. Again, in light of those numbers, the Blue Jays still have one of the top rotations in the AL.
If someone were to tell me that at the beginning of the season, I’d say it’s impossible. Outside of Marcus Stroman, there were simply too many question marks when it came to the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation.
And even then, Stroman was relatively unproven; although his performance down the stretch and into the postseason shot his expectations up astronomically. Marcus Stroman has not been the number one starter everyone expected he would be.
Instead, that role is being filled by one of his best friends: Aaron Sanchez. The man whose status as a starter was up for debate in Spring Training? Yeah, he’s the current ERA leader in the American League.
The Aaron Sanchez debate rages on, and things seem to be reaching critical mass in regards to moving him to the bullpen or shutting him down completely. But I’m not entirely convinced that’s going to happen, given that he’s showing no signs of fatigue and the Blue Jays are in the midst of a playoff race.
Marco Estrada‘s overall health has been a concern this season, but given that he’s landed on the DL twice this season, he’s only missed a minimal amount of starts. Estrada has been right there with Sanchez as one of the best starting pitchers this year in the American League.
And then there’s J.A. Happ; a man whose first tour with the Blue Jays was quite underwhelming, but for whatever reason, the organization seemed to be fascinated with him. Apparently all that research paid off, as Happ has shown his second half with the Pirates last year wasn’t an aberration.
To me, it’s quite remarkable the Blue Jays have two starters who have completely floundered at times this season, and yet the Jays’ starting pitching as a whole has looked incredible.
Not that fourth and fifth starters are supposed to be high calibre. Elite teams might have two and on very rare occasion three really good starting pitchers. After that, it’s merely a crap shoot. But the Blue Jays finally have that elite-level starting pitching. Dare I say, playoff calibre?
If the postseason started today, Dickey and Stroman likely wouldn’t get a start in a Wild Card game or a Division Series anyway. So there’s no sense in bellyaching about how they could hurt the Blue Jays’ chances.
Things are going great for the Blue Jays right now, but of course this whole thing hinges on what happens with Aaron Sanchez. Subtracting him from the starting rotation leaves a huge void, one which can’t really be filled by any pitcher on the trade market right now.
[ Related Post: What Do the Blue Jays Do Now with Aaron Sanchez? ]
That’s why I think the Blue Jays are probably going to ride Sanchez as far as they can take him, and assess as they go. It’s really contingent on Sanchez’ health, where the Blue Jays are in the standings, and whether there’s another arm out there on the trade market.
But even if the Blue Jays have to take Aaron Sanchez out of the rotation, I think they still have one of the more impressive sets of arms in the league. It may not come with the same cache or the Giants or the Mets, but the Blue Jays have some formidable foes in that starting rotation.
Even with R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman. And just imagine if Dickey can be a little less home run-prone and Stroman can continue to show signs of turning things around, then the Blue Jays starting rotation could reach the next stratosphere.