The Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation has surprised just about everyone with its success this season.
Heading into the 2014 season, many critics believed that not making any upgrades to a staff that had the AL's second-worst ERA in 2013 would quickly come back to haunt Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Instead, going with in-house options and not spending money on the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana last offseason has appeared to pay off for the Blue Jays.
Toronto opened the 2014 campaign with a starting rotation consisting of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison and Dustin McGowan.
While Morrow (on the 60-day DL) and McGowan (demoted to the bullpen) are no longer part of the rotation, the remaining three starters have all been effective.
Dickey has posted a 4.08 ERA in 15 starts and has gotten better as the season goes along. Hutchison has an ERA of 3.62 after 14 starts. Buehrle has been one of the best pitchers in the American League, boasting a 10-4 record with a 2.32 ERA in 15 starts.
Rounding out the Blue Jays’ current starting rotation are J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman. Happ has been decent in his nine starts this season, posting a 4.05 ERA but averaging just a little over five innings pitched per start. Stroman has gone 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA in four starts.
As a group, Toronto’s starting pitchers rank third in the AL with a 3.67 ERA and also lead the league in wins with 33.
Meanwhile, Jimenez is struggling badly for the Baltimore Orioles and has a 2-8 record with a 4.86 ERA in 14 starts this season. Santana has posted a middling 4.12 ERA in 13 starts with the Atlanta Braves.
Despite how good Toronto’s rotation has been up to this point, Anthopoulos should still be looking to add a veteran arm before the trade deadline passes.
Keep in mind that Hutchison and Stroman are still relatively unproven up to this point and shouldn’t be counted on to be pitching effectively in September.
Hutchison might also be facing an innings limit considering that this is first season back from Tommy John surgery.
But the rotation’s success does remove some of the pressure off Anthopoulos to make a big splash quickly. The general manager can now take his time to evaluate trade targets and not be forced to overpay for them.
This makes it unlikely that any trades involving Blue Jays top prospect Aaron Sanchez will materialize. Rather, look for the Blue Jays to target mid-rotation pitchers that won’t cost as much.
*All stats are from MLB.com