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Toronto Blue Jays: Strength Showing with 2012 Pitching Staff

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIFebruary 10, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays: Strength Showing with 2012 Pitching Staff

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    The 2011 season may not have ended the way that the Toronto Blue Jays had hoped, but closing out the season at .500 in the most competitive division in baseball is nothing to take lightly.

    Ending the season at 81-81 wasn't that terrible.

    Throughout Major League Baseball, many teams have made some blockbuster offseason moves to strengthen their pitching and their defense.

    Toronto has some top-notch talent, and their minor league system is filled with prospects who will likely rise through the ranks and make significant contributions on their way.

    Looking at the current pitching staff, Toronto appears to have developed a strong, solid arsenal of hurlers, and they seemed to do it under the radar without too much attention.

    The Blue Jays look like they will be very serious contenders in the 2012 season, and the pitching staff will be the backbone.

    Take a look at some of the pitching staff that's sure to perform and deliver a strong 2012 season.

Ricky Romero

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    Ricky Romero pitched 225 innings in 2011 recording 15 wins, 11 losses, 178 strikeouts and two shutouts with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

    Romero is Toronto's ace pitcher, and is poised to have a stellar 2012.

    He was named pitcher of the month in August 2011 with a record of 5-0 in six starts. His 2.05 ERA led the AL that month.

    After three seasons in MLB, he has a win-loss record of 42-29 and 493 strikeouts.

    This 2011 All-Star pitcher is going to astonish Toronto fans this year.

Brandon Morrow

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    Brandon Morrow, a high-velocity fastball pitcher, has been clocked at 100 MPH, and usually averages in the high 90s.

    Working with Toronto's coaching staff in 2010, he altered his pitch delivery by developing more command of his pitches.

    His control with his four main pitches, a fastball, a slider, a circle change and a spiked curveball, have produced impressive results. He recently developed a cut fastball that maintains high velocity.

    Morrow will have one solid performance after another in the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

Brett Cecil

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    Brett Cecil, a left-handed pitcher, is actually right-handed.

    Cecil had a difficult season in 2011, but don't hold that against him. After being optioned down to Triple-A, he was recalled to Toronto. In three seasons with the Blue Jays, he has pitched 389.2 innings and struck out 273 batters with a win-loss record of 26-22.

    He has the ability to pitch quality games, and has proven that ability with a shutout in 2011 and a near no-hitter in 2010.

    Spring training will enable him to work with the coaching staff to refine his pitching mechanics.

    He may hit a few bumps along the way, but overall, 2012 should show some solid pitching from Cecil.

Henderson Alvarez

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    Henderson Alvarez, the new kid on the block, worked his way up through the Toronto minor leagues accumulating some good achievements.

    He was selected twice to the All-Star Futures game, and was an Eastern League All-Star.

    He was called up to Toronto on August 9, 2011, and on August 30 he pitched eight innings and recorded his first win against the Baltimore Orioles with a 13-0 victory.

    He became the youngest Blue Jays pitcher at the age of 21 to record a win since Kelvim Escobar in 1997.

    Alvarez is young and inexperienced in MLB compared to other pitchers, but he has shown that he can hold his own and compete against the best.

    The 2012 season could prove to be a breakout year for the young pitcher.

Kyle Drabek

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    The fifth spot in the Blue Jays' pitching rotation may not be set in stone, but I think that Kyle Drabek is the right choice.

    Since his call-up to Toronto, he has a win-loss record of 4-8, an ERA of 5.83, 63 strikeouts and a 1.72 WHIP in a total of 21 games.

    Drabek’s four-seam fastball tops out at about 93 MPH. His curveball seems to be his knockout pitch, and often utilizes it successfully when batters have two strikes against them.

    Drabek made his MLB debut on Sept. 15, 2010 against the Minnesota Twins and pitched seven innings, threw 101 pitches with seven strikeouts and gave up one hit and one earned run.

    He had a difficult time on June 1, 2011, against the Cleveland Indians and lasted only .2 of an inning. Throwing only 38 pitches, he allowed three hits, three walks, had one strikeout and allowed four earned runs. Spring training will work out the kinks and bugs for Drabek, and I think that 2012 will be a strong season for him.

    Drabek's potential is huge, and he has the arm that Toronto needs to round out the starting rotation.

Francisco Cordero

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    The Blue Jays have a good bullpen of relievers, but we all know how imperative it is to have an experienced veteran.

    Toronto accomplished that goal recently by acquiring 13-year veteran Francisco Cordero. An experienced closer, his role will change for the Blue Jays as he will be the setup man for Sergio Santos coming out of the bullpen.

    Known in MLB as CoCo, he had a strong 2011 season with the Reds, piling up 37 saves in 43 opportunities, along with a 2.45 ERA.

    He has a win-loss record of 44-45, 765 strikeouts, 327 saves and a 3.17 ERA in 13 seasons pitching in both the AL and the NL,

    The 2012 season will be exciting to watch Cordero as he throws his arsenal of pitches.

Sergio Santos

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    Sergio Santos is another high-velocity fastball pitcher who will bring the heat to Toronto in 2012.

    His fastball, slider changeup and curveball helped him to achieve his first MLB win pitching two shutout innings and striking out two in an 11-inning win over Detroit.

    Setting an MLB record, he threw his 25th straight scoreless appearance against Baltimore on August 11, 2011. He eventually increased that to 30.

    That record had been held by Mariano Rivera since 2005.

    Set to be the closer for the Blue Jays in 2012, the pitching staff appears to be the strongest that Toronto has had in a while.

    The 2012 season promises to be hugely productive. Be on the lookout for some of the best pitching in the division.

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