Following up on projections for the Blue Jays hitters earlier in the week, today, it's time to tackle the tough task of projecting how the Jays starting pitchers will perform in the second half. The Blue Jays starting rotation has had a great run in the first half and is turning into the club's best hope for future contention. The bullpen, meanwhile, hasn't performed quite as well.
The Jays starting staff is ranked 12th in all of baseball with a 4.01 FIP . The bullpen hasn't been much worse at 4.05 but is ranked eighteenth amongst all other 'pens. With the Jays yet again looking to the future, ultimately the performance of the young starting staff figures to have far more bearing on future seasons successes as opposed to the older, more expendable members of the bullpen.
As with the hitters earlier in the week, each pitcher's end of season ZiPS projection, courtesy of FanGraphs , will be shown and accompanied with a short analysis and a revised projection based on all sorts of hunches and variables and whatnot, guesswork for short. As always, any and all opinions are welcome in the comments section.
ZiPS EoS(End of season totals): 4.04 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 5.71 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 76 IP
After seeing both Dana Eveland and Brian Tallet wash out of the rotation, Litsch is the latest Jay to try and nail down the fifth spot. In five starts, he hasn't done much to grab a hold of it with a 7.30 ERA and more walks than strikeouts. Litsch didn't do much to inspire confidence at Triple-A either, striking out just 13 in 22 innings with a 5.20 FIP.
ZiPS isn't too excited about his potential moving forward either, and it's tough to disagree. Litsch has never been a big strikeout guy. His high for a season is 5.06 K/9 in 2008, and he has coughed up more than a homer per nine each season in the majors as well. When Shaun Marcum comes off the DL, it's easy to see Litsch headed back down to Las Vegas.
EoS RPGW(revised projection guesswork): 4.5 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, 5.25 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 60 IP
ZiPS EoS: 6.54 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, 4.42 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 161 IP
Cecil has made impressive strides over his initial showing in 2009. Both his home runs and walks per nine innings are down considerably, as is his line drive rate on balls in play. Still not striking out a ton of batters, just 6.48 per nine innings.
He has struggled a bit though, particularly in June when he put up a 5.34 ERA and served up four homers in 30 innings. Cecil's control has been impeccable, but some regression should be expected based on his minor league numbers. If he can continue to up his groundball rate, as he has in each month this season, and add a few more strikeouts, he should continue to impress.
EoS RPGW: 6.60 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 4.25 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 186 IP
ZiPS EoS: 9.76 K/9, 4.56 BB/9, 4.50 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 154 IP
The Blue Jays trade for Morrow and subsequently sticking to the plan of making him a starter has looked better and better over time. Morrow has seen his FIP drop each month of the season from April's 4.09 to May's 3.81 and then June's stellar 2.55.
He's struck out more than a batter per inning over each full month and cut back on the homers as the season has progressed as well. After walking 34 batters in 57 innings, he's issued just 11 free passes in his last 39 innings of work. Morrow is set to turn 26 this month and is starting to flourish.
EoS RPGW: 9.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 4.35 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 162 IP
ZiPS EoS: 7.30 K/9, 2.38 BB/9, 3.63 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 166 IP
Right up until his injury last week, Marcum had teamed up with Ricky Romero to form a formidable one-two punch atop the Blue Jays rotation. Marcum made seventeen starts and looked to be in top form. Luckily for the Jays, he's expected back shortly after the All-Star break, and after missing all of 2009, a two week break was probably a good idea anyways.
Marcum has taken his always good control a step further this year, walking just 2.26 batters per nine. He's never been much of a groundball pitcher and that hasn't changed this year, but he's been much less homer prone than in the past. After posting HR/9 rates of 1.53 and 1.25 in 2007 and 2008, Marcum's down to 1.01 in 2010. That, coupled with his usual slightly above average strikeout rate, has both the ERA(3.44) and FIP(3.77) looking good.
EoS RPGW: 7.35 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, 3.55 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 158 IP
ZiPS EoS: 8.00 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 3.98 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 208 IP
Perhaps the brightest star for the Blue Jays future, Romero has asserted himself as one of the American League's best young starting pitchers. And in a league with the likes of Phil Hughes, Jon Lester, David Price, and Felix Hernandez, that's no small accomplishment. But he's earned it with this year's performance.
If Romero has established one thing in 292 big league innings, it's his undeniable ability to generate groundballs, a pitcher's second best friend after strikeouts. His 56.3 percent groundball rate is matched by few, and he complements it nicely by setting down 8.37 batters per nine innings via a strikeout. Throw in the fact he's a lefty, and a young one at that, and the Jays have found themselves an ace to build around.
EoS RPGW: 8.25 K/9, 3.50 BB/9, 3.62 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 215 IP