With the Blue Jays in the middle of the wild-card race, what we as fans have to remember is that if this team gets a wild-card spot, there is no best-of-five right away. There is a one-game playoff.
With that being said, looking at the starting rotation, I break down each pitcher’s pros and cons in trying to determine who would be the best fit for a winner-take-all game.
Ricky Romero: 8-6, 5.22 ERA
The past two seasons, this would have been a no-brainer and Ricky would automatically get the call. But this year Romero has struggled with his command, especially with his fastball, and his walks put him up among the league leaders. He has not pitched well against good teams in Boston and New York and it seems he is going through a tough season, which happens to a lot of pitchers. He is the most seasoned pitcher of the current starters and is the de facto ace, which could help his candidacy.
Henderson Alvarez: 6-7, 4.61 ERA
Alvarez started well, but has been mostly down since May. He gives up too many home runs and doesn’t possess enough pitches to fool hitters the second and third times through the lineup. He is still a young pitcher who is experiencing growing pains and I am not sure that is the type of pitcher you want to hinge your post-season aspirations on,
Brett Cecil: 2-3. 5.82 ERA
Cecil has spent most of the season in Triple A trying to re-gain his velocity and control of the strike zone. He has been hit and miss since his call-up, but did have a good game vs. Oakland last time out. He struggles against good teams, and should the Jays grab a wild-card berth, they will be playing one of the top five teams in the American League. If Cecil starts showing his form from two seasons ago where he won 15 games, perhaps he may have a stronger case.
Carlos Villaneueva: 5-0, 2.86 ERA
“CV” struggled early on out of the bullpen but has been fantastic since being inserted into the rotation. He has yet to lose this year and has only given up six runs in his past four starts, spanning 23 1/3 innings. He is a quick worker that keeps his defense on their toes and never seems to waver when in trouble. If he continues pitching well the rest of the season, he may emerge as the frontrunner.
Aaron Laffey: 2-1, 2.77 ERA
His success so far to be has been baffling, as when he pitches it looks like he is throwing soft-toss. But the career minor-leaguer who got rocked in previous stints has pitched exceptional and whatever horseshoe he is carrying around, he should not let it go. I don’t see him being in the mix as I feel hitters will make adjustments but so far, so good for Laffey.
Ideally, this list would include Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, and Brandon Morrow, who may be available if his rehabilitation goes smoothly. Personally, I think Morrow has the best stuff on the staff and is the true ace.
But for the purpose of this article, and considering pitchers in the current starting rotation, I would have to go with Ricky Romero. He is their anointed #1 pitcher and if you are going to go down with a fight, you may as well throw your best out there.
Do you agree with this call? Who would you start out of the current five? If all pitchers were healthy, would you go with Morrow?
Feedback and opinions are always encouraged.
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From the couch…