The last-place Jays are only 9-17, and their underachieving rotation has a lot to do with it. Offseason acquisitions Mark Buehrle (6.35 ERA in five starts), R.A. Dickey (4.50 ERA in six starts) and Josh Johnson (6.86 ERA in four starts), as well as Brandon Morrow (5.27 ERA in five starts), haven’t been very good.
J.A. Happ (pictured), who beat out Ricky Romero for the No. 5 starter spot, has been the lone bright spot. Romero, in the meantime, is still working his way back from a terrible 2012 season. After spending a few weeks in extended spring training working on his mechanics, the 28-year-old had an encouraging 2013 debut with seven strong innings for High-A Dunedin (7 IP, ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 K).
Aaron Laffey had a shaky spot start before being designated for assignment, and the rotation at Triple-A Buffalo is filled with journeymen who can’t be trusted for more than a long-relief role. No help is on the way from Double-A, either.
The farm system is still deep with talent in the low minors, led by Aaron Sanchez (3.16 ERA, 25.2 IP, 16 H, 8 BB, 22 K in five High-A starts) and 18-year-old Roberto Osuna (2.95 ERA, 18.1 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 26 K in four Low-A starts).
Still enough pitching depth to trade? Unlikely. Sanchez or Osuna would be valuable trade chips, but the Jays already traded two very good pitching prospects, Noah Syndergaard in the offseason deal for R.A. Dickey and Justin Nicolino in the blockbuster deal with the Marlins.
The lack of depth in the upper minors also means they’re in trouble if the current rotation can’t turn things around. In that case, Josh Johnson would likely go on the trade block for different reasons than having enough depth.