SPORTS

Blue Jays rotation likely to look familiar in 2015

09/18/2014 02:19 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:59 EDT
The Toronto Blue Jays slim playoff hopes continued to fade following a sweep at the hands of the A.L. East champion Baltimore Orioles this week.

With 11 games left to play, the Blue Jays sit six games out of the second wild card spot, so it's probably worth looking towards next season.

The club has several issues, including filling the second-base hole with a player who can provide consistent offence, deciding on a direction in centre field, and finding a replacement for Melky Cabrera if they fail to resign the slugger.

One of the other question marks remains on the mound, particularly the starting rotation.

Barring any major off-season signings, four of the five starters are likely decided, with one tough choice to make to fill out the rotation.

R.A. Dickey

Many Blue Jays fans have a love-hate relationship with R.A. Dickey. But with one guaranteed year left on his contract at $12-million, don't be surprised if Dickey is the Opening Day starter for a third straight year. The former Cy Young Award winner has actually posted some decent numbers in 2014, going 13-12 with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. The righty has also been able to limit the number of home runs he allowed compared to his debut season with the Jays.

Marcus Stroman

​What a breakout season for the 23-year-old. Through his 19 starts this season, the righty has gone 9-6 with an impressive 3.80 ER and 1.19 WHIP for a rookie. Stroman commands five pitches, with a fastball in the mid-ninties, and an enticing slider. If he can improve upon his 54.7% groundball percentage, he could be very valuable between a pair of veterans in the rotation.

Mark Buehrle

The 36-year-old will be entering the final year of his contract, and will make $19-million in 2015. The lefty helped stabilize the rotation this season, jumping out to a fantastic 10-1 start on the year. Since then, Buehrle's record has slipped hard, going 2-8 with just a pair of starts left this season. 

Drew Hutchison

​Another promising young arm, Hutchison has successfully rebounded from Tommy John surgery that kept him out of the entire 2013 season. Inconsistancy has been the issue with the 24-year-old this season, resulting in a 4.51 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP to go along with a 10-12 record. Those numbers are additionally telling when you consider Hutchison has an incredible 170 strikeouts in 175.2 innings pitched over 30 starts. 

5th starter

All signs right now point to J.A. Happ being the final arm in the rotation. Happ is under contract for next season, slated to make $5.2-million with a team option in 2016. He's consistently brought down the amount of hits and walks he allows per inning.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos must decide what to do with Brandon Morrow. The often-injured right-hander has missed the majority of this season, and will only be brought back if Anthopoulos decides to take a risk and pick-up Morrow's team option at $10-million. With Morrow only having pitched more that 150 innings in a season once in his eight-year career, it seems unlikely the 30-year-old will be back. 

Dustin McGowan could also make a bid for the final rotation spot. The Jays promoted McGowan to a starting role to begin the 2014 season, but through his first five starts the 32-year-old proved ineffective with a 5.87 ERA over 23 innings. 

Toronto has a wealth of young pitching prospects looking to crack the big club's rotation in spring training, including Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman. But it would appear Aaron Sanchez has the best opportunity to make the leap. Over 28.2 innings so far, the righty is 2-1 with a pair of saves, has struck out 25 batters, and has a glistening 0.63 WHIP. Standing at 6-foot-4, Sanchez has an arsenal of pitches highlighted by a fastball that nears 100 mph (161 kph). 

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