Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Heading into the 2014 season, Toronto’s starting rotation was widely expected to be the team’s biggest weakness.
Two and a half months later, that’s no longer the case.
Toronto’s starters rank second in the AL with a combined 3.67 ERA and also lead the league in wins with 33.
But, regardless of the rotation’s success up to this point, acquiring starting pitching is still the No. 1 priority for the Blue Jays before the trade deadline.
While veterans Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey are fixtures on the staff, there are still question marks surrounding the rest of Toronto’s rotation.
Consider the fact that this is Drew Hutchison’s first season back from Tommy John surgery. While the team has been tight-lipped about its plans to manage the 23-year-old’s innings, it’s possible that Hutchison could be shut down in September once he pitches between 160-180 innings.
It’s still much too early to expect Marcus Stroman to become a consistent contributor in the rotation. He’s made just three starts at the major league level and could quickly find himself back in the minors if he struggles.
J.A. Happ has been effective in his first nine starts this season, but he has a career ERA of 4.44 in Toronto and has averaged just a little over five innings pitched per start during that span.
Getting another high upside, veteran pitcher could be what it takes for the Blue Jays to effectively compete down the stretch.
The Chicago Cubs have made starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel available. Other pitchers such as David Price, James Shields and Justin Masterson could also be available for the right price as the deadline approaches.
Any trade involving a starting pitcher will likely cost the Blue Jays dearly in prospects, so Anthopoulos will need to weigh his options carefully here.