Our first guest writer this week is Zach Sanders, who writes for RotoGraphs (a division of FanGraphs.com).
During a chat at FanGraphs last Friday, a reader posed an interesting question. The reader asked me to rank the Blue Jays starting staff based on their value as keepers. It got me thinking, so, without further ado…
1. Ricky Romero
Compared to last year, his first season in the bigs, Romero has increased his strikeout and ground ball rates. He has also decreased his home run and walk rates, making him a better pitcher on all fronts. He has a four-pitch arsenal that includes a very good changeup and curveball, each of which he uses to make hitters miss. With a strong K-rate and 55% ground balls, Romero is a safe bet to be successful going forward, and should continue to refine his control.
2. Marc Rzepczynski
Rzep is an interesting pitcher who was a nice surprise in the majors last year. He makes his living on two pitches–his sinker and his slider. He will need to develop a changeup if he wants to become a dominant starter, but he makes the most of what he’s got. He had a K/BB ratio of exactly 2.0 during his 2009 stint in the bigs, with a GB-rate north of 50%. He spent most of this year in the minors after missing the first month of the season thanks to an injury, and even though he didn’t crush AAA hitting, he has been called back up to the bigs. I love ground ball pitchers who get strikeouts, so I think he has great upside.
3. Brandon Morrow
Morrow has performed well as a starter, but he still has things to work on. His velocity is top notch, but his control is noticeably sub-par. His slider is his best breaking pitch, and he throws it a mere 10% of the time. He relies heavily on his fastball, which can lead to problems. He strikes guys out, and has gotten unlucky this year, but needs to get his BB/9 down to the 3.0-3.5 range if he wants to improve his overall numbers.
4. Shaun Marcum
Doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but gets K’s thanks to the best changeup in baseball. He keeps the walks low, but allows too many fly balls. Already 28, so he’s not going to get much better.
5. Brett Cecil
Cecil is still young (23), but does nothing to get me excited. He doesn’t possess a great offspeed pitch or fastball, but has decent K (6.48) and BB (2.61) rates. If you’re not in a very deep or AL-only league, there isn’t a reason to own Cecil.