Under the guidance of General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, the Toronto Blue Jays have built one of the deepest pitching foundations in the entire MLB. When injuries happen, the Jays are fortunate enough to look within the organization for replacements, as opposed to picking up aging veterans.
This past week, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison all landed on the disabled list within a span of four days. For any other team, the loss of three starting pitchers, would signal the end of any hopes for playoffs. Luckily, the depth within the minor league system, has allowed the Jays to stay level. However, along with a couple of other pitching injuries, I got to thinking what a rotation of currently injured Jays arms would look like.
Along with the aforementioned trio of Morrow, Drabek and Hutchison, Toronto already was playing the season with injuries to Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch. In 2007, McGowan and Litsch were two highly touted prospects, with the expectation that around 2012, both would be locks in the rotation.
Unfortunately, both sustained serious shoulder injuries in 2008. As a result, McGowan didn’t return to the rotation until last August. Meanwhile, Litsch was converted from a starter to reliever, due to depth in the system. One has to wonder, if all five pitchers were healthy, would the rotation be good or struggle mightily?
(Side note: I’m writing this blog as if I could rewrite history, any differing opinion is welcome in the comments section)
For all intents and purposes, what should have happened was that McGowan and Litsch stayed healthy from 2007 to 2012. According to TSN’s career potential, at one point they had McGowan listed as the heir to the throne as the ace of the rotation once Halladay left. Litsch was supposed to pan out as a middle of the rotation guy. At the same time, Morrow currently has the potential to be an ace, Hutchison is seen as a middle of the rotation guy, and Drabek is seen as a strong number two pitcher.
In other words, if the Toronto Blue Jays were forced to go with a pitching rotation of Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, they should be alright. In McGowan and Litsch, you have two established veteran pitchers that know how to play against the American League East. The discipline the duo would have could be used to mentor Drabek and Hutchison, who are two very good prospects. Morrow would of course be the wild card we’ve known him to be thus far in his career. That is to say, Morrow has the tools to be an ace, but focus issues occasionally rise up.
At first glance, many diehard baseball fans probably hate this rotation. Personally though, I don’t mind it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’ve always believed that Morrow and McGowan could fill the top of the rotation, if both were healthy. Each pitcher has logged a minimum of 180 innings pitched, which shows us that they can be relied upon to go deep into ball games.
It also helps, that each pitcher has four pitches, which is the same as most number one and two starters in the league. The other thing I appreciate about this rotation is that despite their experience, all five pitchers are under 30 years old. Meaning to say, if they gel, they could be good for a very long time.