Toronto’s sudden pitching downfall

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It’s been quite awhile since I last posted, but I promise I’ve been busy as ever keeping up with the Blue Jays here in Cedar City, Utah. In fact, I’ve caught a couple of Las Vegas 51s games, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, just to make sure I didn’t lose out on the opportunity to see Adam Lind, Vladimir Guerrero, Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud play. 

But while the focus on the radio stations back in Toronto seem to be fueled by arguments of hitting, pitching is becoming a serious issue that the fans are starting to notice. One caller yelled at Sports Net 590′s Rob Wong over the lack of hitting and .300 hitters, while countless others have flooded SN 590′s Mike Wilner with similar complaints. Sure, there are no .300 hitters on the Jays, but they’re a top 5 team in runs scored. That should win any argument. It doesn’t matter if the hitting averages are low, as long as the Jays can manufacture runs.

But, the pitching in Toronto is the Achilles heel — or Tommy John if you may — of the ball club. 

Since June 11, all hell has broken lose for the Jays’ hurlers. In the nine games since that date, Toronto has failed to get a starter into the seventh inning eight times. Only Ricky Romero and Henderson Alverez have pitched six innings in that time. Romero has struggled mightily this season, and Alverez has posted a 6.26 ERA and 1.68 WHIP, and opponents are hitting .339 off him in his past seven starts. But the real issues came with Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison each having to leave their respective last starts early with various injuries.

That news only got worse with Drabek undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday, Hutchison seriously contemplating Tommy John surgery, and all signs indicating Morrow will be on the shelf well past the All Star break with a bum oblique. This is all on top of the ongoing Jessie Litsch and Dustin McGowan injuries in the starting rotation. 

With the injuries and ill performance, Toronto’s bullpen has been pretty solid, but extremely overworked in the past nine games and that will eventually show if the starting staff can’t linger in their starts.

During this time, many have rushed to their phones and dialed the Fan 590 or blogged about how Alex Anthopolous has failed as a GM for not having the depth he promised he’d build.

Blaming Anthopolous would be absurd and uncalled for. It’d be reckless to believe any GM could prepare for losing three starters to longterm injury in a short four-day span. That depth Anthopolous has been talking about is methodically making its way up the charts in Single-A and Double-AA, and it’d be ludicrous to actually believe they should be in the majors by now if a 2009 15th-round pick like Hutchison had already made it. 

Now Toronto will be in an interesting stage. All signs point to a downfall with the lack of a fourth and fifth starter, especially with Jessie Chavez and Joel Carreno each making lackluster starts in relief of Drabek and Hutchison. Meanwhile, Brett Cecil fired off a pretty decent five-inning start for Morrow. But, if this sort of inconsistent pitching continues, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays become sellers on the market. However, if Anthopolous believes this is the year to strike in the AL East, expect him to dangle some of those well-touted prospects in an attempt to find a reliable and healthy starter Toronto can use.  

One thing is for sure, though, and that’s we won’t be seeing Drabek for a long time. 

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