The Blue Jays have added three, maybe four, starting pitchers. How has this affected the minor league team’s rotations?
The offseason started off slowly for the Blue Jays Front Office. They were under fire for missing out on several Free Agents but that’s nothing new for this Front Office. Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro have not enured themselves to this fanbase. According to many fans, Ross Atkins should not be trusted to make the big trade or to sign the big Free Agents. These same fans, feel Shapiro doesn’t care about building a winner, that his only goal is to make money for Rogers.
With the additions of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and Shun Yamaguchi the Blue Jays have completely reshaped their pitching staff. This group is not and likely will not be considered with the top rotations in baseball but they should give Toronto a chance to win on most days. This club might still be one or two years away from becoming serious contenders, these additions have elevated the club from a potential 90 loss team to a possible .500 club.
Maybe, more importantly, these additions will improve the depth of starting pitching in the system. Guys who were eyeing up a spot in the rotation in the Spring will have a steeper hill to climb. Competition is never a bad thing.
I’ve listed the potential rotations in Toronto, Buffalo, New Hampshire, Dunedin, and Lansing. I’ve listed 6 starters for each level. I’ve also included a list at the end which includes guys I feel are on the outside looking in at rotation spots. Lastly, I included a couple of names at the end who could surprise and grab a rotation spot, most likely in Lansing.
Toronto Blue Jays
Hyun-Jin Ryu (32)
Tanner Roark (33)
Chase Anderson (32)
Matt Shoemaker (33)
Ryan Borucki (25)
Shun Yamaguchi (31)
A much more experienced group of starter compared to last year. However, this rotation comes with risk. Ryu, Shoemaker, and Borucki have not been the most durable. That is what makes the additions of Anderson and Roark so important. Anderson and Roark should eat innings, give the bullpen a chance at not throwing pitches in the 3rd or 4th innings, and possibly reduce the need to use an Opener.
Shun Yamaguchi is my 6th starter. He will step in if any of the other 5 falter.
Buffalo Bisons AAA
Nate Pearson (23)
Anthony Kay (24)
Trent Thornton (26)
T.J. Zeuch (24)
Sean Reid-Foley (24)
Jacob Waguespack (26)
A lot of discussions can be had about the Blue Jays Triple-A rotation. I feel that Pearson, Kay, and Zeuch are locks to start 2020 with Buffalo. On the other hand, I feel as though Thornton and SRF could find themselves pitching out the bullpen……in Toronto. I would like to see Thornton and SRF continue to develop as SP but understand the need for BP arms. Thomas Pannone is another guy who may have lost his chance at starting for the Blue Jays.
Waguespack could play the all-important swingman role. He could be the Bisons 6th starter and the Blue Jays spot starter.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats AA
Yennsy Diaz (23)
Patrick Murphy (24)
Hector Perez (23)
Thomas Hatch (25)
Joey Murray (23)
Maximo Castillo (20)
Diaz, Hatch, and Perez were set to pitching in Triple-A in 2020. It now seems more likely that they will return to Double-A or head to the bullpen. Perez has the stuff to become an impact bullpen, now might be the time to begin that transition. Diaz’ projection is that of a 5th starter or bullpen, like Perez, now might be the time to make the switch. Murphy had to make some adjustments to his delivery which resulted in some arm soreness. If Murphy can show he is healthy and can be effective with a new delivery than he could push for a spot in Buffalo.
Dunedin Blue Jays A-Advanced
Elvis Luciano (19)
Eric Pardinho (19)
Josh Winckowski (21)
Sean Wymer (22)
Alek Manoah (22)
The D-Jays are going to have a very interesting rotation. After spending time in the Blue Jays bullpen as a Rule 5 pick Luciano should return to starting. He will be joined by fellow 19-yr-olds SWR and Pardinho. I have Pardinho in Dunedin because of the training staff and he did look really good with Lansing when he was healthy. This level could see a couple of piggyback tandems to limit and build up inning limits. This will open the door for former 4th rounder Sean Wymer who wasn’t great with the Lugnuts in 2019. It will also allow last year’s 1st round pick Alek Manoah to bypass Lansing.
Lansing Lugnuts A-Ball
Adam Kloffenstein (19)
Kendall Williams (19)
Alex Nolan (23)
Nick Fraze (22)
William Gaston (23)
Grant Townsend (22)
Edisson Gonzalez (20)
The Lugs should have three 20-ish-year-old pitchers. Kloff, Williams, and Gonzo should see some piggyback starts. This will allow some of the older guys to remain stretched out and get some starts. Gaston is a 6-foot-5 righty out of La Habana, Cuba. He pitched well in Vancouver and should get a chance at the club’s 5th spot in the rotation.
Vying for Starts
Andrew Sopko (25) (Buffalo)
Julian Merryweather (28) (Toronto’s BP or Buffalo SP, If healthy)
Justin Dillon (26) (Buffalo/NH)
Jon Harris (26) (Buffalo, If healthy)
Graham Spraker (24) (NH)
Turner Larkins (24) (NH)
Zach Logue (23) (NH)
Nick Allgeyer (23) (NH)
Curtis Taylor (24) (NH)
Fitz Stadler (22) (D-Jays)
Troy Miller (22) (D-Jays)
Troy Watson (22) (D-Jays)
Juan De Paula (22) (????)
Juan Diaz (21) (Lansing)
Luis Quinones (22) (Lansing after Suspension)
Gabriel Ponce (20) (Lansing)
Jol Concepcion (21)
Roither Hernandez (21)
Naswell Paulino (19)
Sam Ryan (21)
Winder Garcia (18)
It seems as though more than half the teams in Baseball are not trying to win. They are either rebuilding or retooling. There is only a hand full of teams actually trying to win the World Series. This way of running a team or building a winner has broken baseball for many fanbases.
The Blue Jays will field a competitive MLB roster in 2020. Despite playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, they will field a youthful team with exciting talent. Just because you play in the AL East doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to compete. This defeatist mindset in baseball sucks. The league shouldn’t consist of 10 teams trying to win and 21 teams trying to lose as much as possible.
Ryu is a clear upgrade for a team that appeared thin on starting pitching. He’s risky, sure, but he’s a clear step in the right direction towards trying to win baseball games. He also buys time for the guys listed above to develop.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)