Toronto Blue Jays: Who Will Be the No. 1 Starter in 2013?

George HalimCorrespondent IIJanuary 16, 2013

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 31: Brandon Morrow #23 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 31, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

It's a never-ending debate that's been circulating around the Toronto Blue Jays' clubhouse: Who will be the opening day starter? But more importantly, who will be the top guy?

The debate began since the mega deal with the Miami Marlins. Superstars, notably two starting pitchers in workhorse Mark Buehrle and fireballer Josh Johnson, highlighted the deal.

Later on in the offseason, Alex Anthopoulos rose to the top of the pack again, acquiring the 2012 National League Cy Young winner, RA Dickey, in a trade with the New York Mets. The deal was a risky one, as Toronto traded two of their top five minor league prospects, including top prospect Travis d'Arnaud. 

So with that, the Blue Jays have completed the starting rotation: RA Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. 

Suddenly, it would appear the Jays' opening day starter of the past two seasons, Romero, is not going to nab that job for a third consecutive season. So who will? 

That pitcher will be Morrow

RA Dickey seems like the most obvious choice given his 2012 campaign, but I'll explain why Morrow is the right choice. 

The opening series is against the Cleveland Indians, a team with three switch hitters: Carlos Santana, Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera. Not only that, but the remaining starters in their batting order are split down the middle with right-handers and left-handers. So at this point, a right-handed or left-handed pitcher is irrelevant. 

In 2012, Morrow's 10-7 record in an injury-shortened season barely depicted the type of force he was on the mound. After taking a couple of seasons to settle down as a starter in Toronto, he took off last season with a career-best 2.96 ERA and 1.115  WHIP in 124.2 innings pitched.

Against the Indians in the second game of the 2012 campaign, Morrow was lights out, pitching seven quality innings of one-hit ball with three walks. Unfortunately, the only hit was a home run.

Morrow's 2012 strikeout totals dropped significantly since previous years. That could just be because he's learning how to pitch to contact instead of blowing the ball past batters like he's done in the past.

In 2010, his strikeout percentage was 28.3, and in 2011, it dropped to 26.1. Last season, it was the lowest of his career as a full-time starter at 21.4 percent. 

At 28 years old, Morrow might be one of the better pitchers to take the mound in Toronto since Roy Halladay. A bold statement, yes, but his presence on the mound is admirable and comparable to that of Doc.

Morrow's numbers in 2012 were all better than the league average. He's established himself in Toronto, and he's proven that he's comfortable pitching at home with a 3.01 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while holding opposing batters to a .226 batting average.

He's proven that he can man the top job in Toronto, and backed with a stellar staff, his stuff will be that much more devastating to hitters around the league. Assuming he stays healthy, Morrow will have no problem taking over the top spot, and he won't let anyone in the clubhouse down. 


All stats were used courtesy of