2014 Toronto Blue Jays - Pitching Staff Preview
Casey Janssen leads a dominant cast of relievers that will provide plenty of support for fantasy teams in leagues with 'pitcher' slots. Clearly, you can't go wrong with the Blue Jays' pen. We know that they can bring it, but we don't know if their starters can make it matter. Let's be real here. There's only one guy among them that's actually attractive to fantasy owners. The question is: when do you try and get him on draft day?
2014 Toronto Blue Jays - Starting Pitchers
Fantasy owners will cross their fingers for another performance like the one he had as the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2012 but will expect the mean from a 2013 season that saw his ERA inflate to 4.21. Die-hard Jays fans will remember a Spring Training game against the Phillies where he was absolutely rocked, and that was really a harbinger of his ineffectiveness for the next four months. Dickey remains in the impact performers category because his 1.24 WHIP suggests he was a little unlucky and because 185 strikeouts from the game's best knuckleballer isn't a stretch. Dickey will have a new battery mate this season, and it will be interesting to see how these guys click. I am confident Dickey bounces back this season, and that's why I'm targeting him in rounds six thru eight in a 12-team format.
2013 Stats: 224.2 IP, 14-13 W/L, 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 177 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 230 IP, 16-12 W/L, 3.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 190 K
While Morrow is best utilized as a sell-high pitcher, that doesn't mean you should draft him. Wait to see how he pitches first, then pick him up if he looks good. Then sell, sell, sell.
2013 Stats: 54.1 IP, 2-3 W/L, 5.63 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 42 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 110 IP, 5-7 W/L, 5.10 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 80 K
Buehrle has always been a better real life pitcher than a fantasy pitcher. Last year he threw 200-plus innings for the 14th straight season. He won 12 games, too. If the Jays play better and Buehrle does as well, it's not impossible for him to win 15, but with his lack of strikeout potential, he remains a streamline option in virtually all leagues.
2013 Stats: 203.3 IP, 12-10 W/L, 4.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 139 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 210 IP, 14-11 W/L, 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 115 K
Ever since he went from the Phillies to the Astros (2010), Happ has struggled to find the form that had him in the running for Rookie of the Year in 2009. Last year, his WHIP hit 1.4, and one might think he is far from finding his rookie form, but look deep and you'll see that Happ was very strong in September. So, maybe he has found it? Keep an eye on this guy. To me, Happ feels like a streamline option if he's pitching well at the time and the Jays are winning games.
2013 Stats: 92.2 IP, 5-7 W/L, 4.56 ERA, 1.468 WHIP, 77 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 160 IP, 11-10 W/L, 4.00 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 125 K
Last season Rogers was converted back into a starter after a couple of years of relief. What transpired was retrospectively predictable. After posting a solid 3.64 ERA prior to the 2013 All-Star Game, Rogers hit a wall at the All-Star break. The 28-year-old had a six ERA in 12 second-half starts, and finished the season weakly. If you draft him in deep leagues or AL-only leagues, you're saying that Rogers will have better endurance. If you don't, you're saying that hitters figured him out and that his second half stats are more indicative of the pitcher he truly is.
2013 Stats: 137.2 IP, 5-9 W/L, 4.77 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 96 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 80 IP, 3-6 W/L, 5.40 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 60 K
Marcus Stroman - Coming Soon
The Jays' top pitching prospect is bound to join the club sometime this season. When he does, draft him if you participate in a dynasty or AL-only league. In my opinion, Stroman is a better option at the back end of this rotation because the other options are pretty bad. That may not sound like a great reason to rush your 22-year-old prospect to the bigs, but then again, it might. I like Stroman to join the big club by early June.
2013 AA Stats: 111.2 IP, 9-5 W/L, 3.30 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, 129 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 88 IP, 4-4 W/L, 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 75 K
2014 Toronto Blue Jays - Relief Pitchers
Janssen has given the Jays and fantasy owners three straight seasons of solid relief, and there's no reason to think he won't make it four. If the Jays turn things around in 2014, you can expect Janssen's owners to benefit with close to 40 saves. His K/9 rate in recent seasons has been about 9.0, so he has plenty of staying power in the closer position. You can expect him to be somewhere between the 8th and 11th closer to come off the board.
2013 Stats: 52.2 IP, 4-1 W/L, 2.56 ERA, 34 S, 0.99 WHIP, 50 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 58.0 IP, 4-2 W/L, 2.50 ERA, 38 S, 1.05 WHIP, 55 K
As Toronto's top set-up man, Santos will have plenty of value and upside in leagues with "pitcher" slots. If you're thinking he might slide into the closer slot if things don't go right with Janssen, you would be right. On the other hand, you have to worry about Steve Delabar taking his spot, especially with Santos' recent history of issues with his shoulder and elbow.
2013 Stats: 25.2 IP, 1-1 W/L, 1.75 ERA, 1 S, 0.58 WHIP, 28 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 50 IP, 3-1 W/L, 1.20 ERA, 2 S, 1.00 WHIP, 60 K
After damaging his elbow so badly as a young professional that he needed nine screws and a metal plate implanted, the 30-year-old Delabar has since returned to pitching for money in a big way. Last year he racked up 82 strikeouts in 51.2 innings, a K/9 rate that screams potential closer. But with Janssen the clear closer and Santos most likely the next man up, you will have to utilize this 2013 All-Star in leagues with flexible "pitcher" slots.
2013 Stats: 58.2 IP, 5-5 W/L, 3.22 ERA, 1 S, 1.35 WHIP, 82 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 60 IP, 5-6 W/L, 3.30 ERA, 0 S, 1.30 WHIP, 80 K
Cecil is another cog in the top-10 Toronto bullpen. After showing signs of dominance in this pen, especially as a LHP vs. LHH option, there's little shot he ever returns to the starting rotation, so you will not find value there. But you have to think the Jays might strongly consider trading one of their relievers, and if that happens and Cecil stays in Toronto, his value rises a little- and potentially a lot if he is sent elsewhere.
2013 Stats: 62.2 IP, 5-1 W/L, 2.82 ERA, 1 S, 1.10 WHIP, 70 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: 60 IP, 6-2 W/L, 2.70 ERA, 0 S, 1.10 WHIP, 70 K