Spring Training is now under way, and this is a good time to reveal my predictions for the Blue Jays starting rotation for the upcoming 2009 season. However, this is no easy task, as only the first three spots are pretty much guaranteed, until Dustin McGowan comes back from shoulder surgery in mid-May.
I have penciled in Brett Cecil and Casey Janssen for the fourth and fifth spots, as I believe that they are the early favorites, and that they should be the ones heading north with the rest of the team when April hits.
Does anything really need to be said about staff ace Roy Halladay? Always dependable, it's anyone's guess as to why Halladay continues to stay with the franchise, despite never competing for a playoff spot in his more than 10 years with the team.
Halladay should be a top fantasy pick and a preseason favorite for the AL Cy Young award.
2008 Stats: 20-11, 2.78 ERA, 33 GS, 246 Innings, 206 K, 39 BB
2009 Projections: 22-7, 2.88 ERA, 35 GS, 241 Innings, 180 K, 43 BB
Litsch has been a very pleasant surprise over the past two seasons. He has a 3.67 career ERA and a career record of 20-18. His stuff is underrated and he figures to be the No. 2 man in the rotation this year, at least until Dustin McGowan comes back.
2008 Stats: 13-9, 3.58 ERA, 28 GS, 176 Innings, 99 K, 39 BB
2009 Predictions: 12-12, 3.99 ERA, 31 GS, 188 Innings, 95 K, 44 BB
Once thought to be a draft bust, this young lefty has turned his career around enough that he will likely be the Jays' third starter when April rolls around. He struggled in his first few starts last year, which was to be expected, but pitched good during the last month of the season.
2008 Stats: 3-6, 5.54 ERA, 12 GS, 65 Innings, 58 K, 29 BB
2009 Predictions: 10-13, 4.19 ERA, 25 GS, 153 Innings, 121 K, 57 BB
Another young lefty, Cecil is just 22 years old, yet, still projects to be the fourth starter in this year's rotation. Drafted by the Blue Jays as a closer, they moved him to the rotation and has it ever paid dividends.
Cecil will be watched carefully throughout the season, as he still is not ready to throw 200 or more innings just yet.
2008 Stats: No Major League stats available
2009 Predictions: 8-10, 4.09 ERA, 22 GS, 140 Innings, 111 K, 50 BB
Janssen got some devastating news during training camp in 2008, after a great 2007 season as the set-up man in the bullpen: He tore the labrum in his right shoulder, and he would need surgery that would keep him out for the entire season.
Fortunately, he is back and fully healthy this season; he's the odds-on favorite to win the fifth spot in the rotation.
2008 Stats: Out for the year with torn labrum
2009 Predictions: 11-15, 3.99 ERA, 30 GS, 189 Innings, 89 K, 42 BB
McGowan started off really well last season, but his play started to decline in June, when it was revealed that he would need major shoulder surgery. He isn't expected to be back until at least mid-May this year, and who knows how effective he will be when he returns?
2008 Stats: 6-7, 4.37 ERA, 19 GS, 111.1 Innings, 85 K, 38 BB
2009 Predictions: 9-8, 4.22 ERA, 19 GS, 133 Innings, 80 K, 48 BB