The first through third spots in the Blue Jays rotation are locked in with Ricky Romero, Brendan Morrow and Brett Cecil. With nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, prize prospect Kyle Drabek is all but assured the fourth spot. The only rotation slot still up for grabs is the fifth, with Jesse Litsch and Mark Rzepczynski as the two lead horses.
So, where would Kevin Slowey fit? The top four spots are spoken for, so I fail to see the need for a $2.7 million player to pitch out of the five hole. Particularly when you consider that the current incumbents, Litsch and Rzepczynski, make a combined $1.234 million.
Now before you accuse me of being penny wise and dollar foolish, let's dig in to the numbers.
Slowey has a showy (sorry) record with a career 39-21 mark. However, if you dig further you'll find that this may be his only redeeming statistical quality.
Never having pitched more than 160 innings in any of his four seasons, Slowey, with his pedestrian 4.41 lifetime ERA, is hardly an inning muncher with a measly 5.2 innings per start average. Some may counter that, with his admirable 1.5 BB/9 career rate. To that, I'll offer you his very generous 10.0 H/9, middling 6.9 K/9 and ugly 1.4 HR/9 career numbers.
Now, how do those stats compare to Litsch and Rzepczynski?
Mark Rzepczynski is a bit wild with a career 4.4 BB/9. However, this is fairly standard for young power pitchers. Rzep counters this with a sterling 8.4 K/9 to go along with career numbers of 8.9 H/9 and 1.1 HR/9.
Although the sample size is smaller, Rzep shows a higher ceiling as he's already averaged similar ERA and IP numbers to those of Slowey—with much more promising ancillary stats.
As for Jesse Litsch, his ERA and WHIP are also comparable to Slowey, except Litsch has proven he can go deep in to games with greater consistency: as his 176 inning 2008 season and 6.0 inning per start average show (he's been injured off and on since then).
I will admit that his low strikeout rate (4.5/9) is a tad disconcerting, but he makes up for that with a low 9.5 H/9 and very nice 2.4 BB/9 career stat line.
Perhaps the most glaring stat line is the comparative GB/FB (ground ball/fly ball) and GO/AO (ground out/air out) rates of all three:
Slowey: 0.48 and 0.61
Litsch: 0.91 and 1.25
Rzepczynski: 1.08 and 1.84
I can't see any reasonable scenario where Toronto would want such a hittable pitcher, considering the stadium and division in which they play. Slowey would be a disaster here and, with his contract, an expensive one.
One last point to consider: none of these reports originated from any Toronto news sources. Just putting it out there.
As always, you can read this and many other articles on http://northsportsblog.blogspot.com/