Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Stretching Out

Apologies if this kind of thing has been posted elsewhere, but when I got the notification on my phone today that Dustin McGowan was named the fifth starter, I had a couple thoughts go through my head.

First, I assume that this means that McGowan will be the fourth starter, and not the fifth, as the Jays have already stated that Brandon Morrow will start the Jays' fifth game of the year, their home opener.  I just got home from work though, and have quite literally the blurb from my phone to go off of.

Second --and this also ties in to Morrow-- the big issue with McGowan was the fact that he had gotten sick and lost a few pounds at the start of spring, causing him to be a touch late in getting stretched out, to the point that the club was worried about his ability to throw, say, 90 pitches in his first start.

I don't really think that's a huge issue though.  McGowan will have another spring start to stretch out a bit before the season starts, but the Jays will also have a bit of an easy schedule for the first month.  Not easy from a competition standpoint, per se-- they face the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox off the top of my head for at least 10 of their first 20 games, and I think the Orioles are scattered in there somewhere as well-- but rather, they simply have fewer games to play.  The Jays open their season this coming Monday (!), but then don't play a single Monday game until May.  That's four offdays in their first month of games.

However they want to use those extra days off is their prerogative.  It looks like the Jays will be carrying 8 relievers to start the year, thanks to options and whatnot, so the Jays should have plenty in the tank as far as the bullpen is concerned.  Jeffress, Redmond, Rogers and McGowan are all out of options, if I remember correctly, and all four can certainly qualify as swingmen or long relief if needed (they were trying to stretch Jeffress out for a while at the start of the spring).  JA Happ's DL-ing should actually open enough spots for all of those guys to make it, rather than only three of them, at least until Happ comes back, which would be April 8th at the earliest if his DL stint is backdated to yesterday.  With all of those guys in the bullpen, they can go ahead and watch McGowan's progress and let him continue at his own pace, with the pillows of Rogers, Redmond and Happ there, just in case McGowan throws too many pitches early in a game.

If McGowan loses his spot to Happ upon Happ's return from the DL, then so be it, we don't have to worry about anything.  If not though, McGowan will have plenty of time to stretch out by then, and the Jays have lots of time to keep him fresh with all the offdays.  If McGowan is staying in the rotation, he can be piggybacked, whether it's with Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, or the returning Happ.  Beyond that, an extra offday here and there will allow Dickey and Buerhle to pitch on regular rest in the event of someone (i.e. Morrow or McGowan) needing to be skipped or moved back a day.

My suggestion is to stick Dickey behind Morrow in the continuum (1 after 5) and Buerhle behind McGowan.  This way, if either McGowan or Morrow need an extra day to recover, the two rubberest arms are the ones moving up a day.

As such, here's my rotation:

1. Dickey
2. Hutchison
3. McGowan
4. Buehrle
5. Morrow

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