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Now that we have all the position players allocated it is time to look at pitchers and there are a lot of them.  Today we will look at starting pitchers and tomorrow we will finish with relievers.

Pitchers get injured more than position players and miss more time.  When we allocate pitchers we have to remember this and assign an extra pitcher here and there assuming one of them will end up on the disabled list.

Here are your starting pitcher candidates:

Major League: Roy Halladay; Jesse Litsch; Dustin McGowan; Shaun Marcum; David Purcey; Scott Richmond; Matt Clement; Casey Janssen

AAA: Ricky Romero; Brett Cecil; Bill Murphy; Davis Romero

AA: Marty McLeary; Brad Mills; Robert Ray; Luis Perez; Brandon Magee

A+: Randy Boone; Kyle Ginley; Marc Rzepczynski; Reidier Gonzalez; Kenny Rodriguez; AJ Wideman

A: Joel Carreno; Jimmy Dougher; Castillo Perez; Andrew Liebel; Trystan Magnuson; Josh Wells

Extended: Henderson Alvarez; Jonas Cuotto

Swing: Brian Burres; Bryan Bullington; Fabio Castro; Mike MacDonald; David Shinskie; Adrian Martin; Nate Starner; Danny Farquhar

Notes: Mike Maroth, Matt Bush and the swing pitchers above have been included with relievers.  The Jays have enough starting pitcher candidates without these guys.

We all know that there are three starters who are pretty assured of a job in April, Halladay, Litsch and Purcey.  With McGowan and Marcum injured there are probably five serious candidates for the two jobs.  Those five candidates are Richmond, Clement, Janssen, Cecil and Ricky Romero.  Brad Mills does not have the experience that the others do.  It is a lot to ask of Casey Janssen to come back from shoulder surgery and move into the rotation.  I think he might need more time.  Similarly Matt Clement was not up to the job last season, has the off-season helped his arm?  I think Scott Richmond deserves another chance, he pitched reasonably well at the end of last season and that experience should help him in 2009.  He doesn't have the mileage on his arm that other pitchers do, so let's hope that 2008 wasn't his career year.  That leaves the fifth spot to Ricky Romero or Brett cecil.  This job will go to the guy who pitches well in the first three weeks of spring training.  If it is tied Cecil doesn't have as much experience as Romero and JP has more invested in Ricky so if it is a tie I think Ricky will get the chance.

The rest of the guys will likely be in the AAA starting pitcher rotation, that is Janssen, Clement, and Cecil.

There are several candidates for the last two positons, including Bill Murphy, Davis Romero, Brad Mills, Marty McLeary and all the swing guys who have started in the last like Brian Burres, Bryan Bullington and Mike Maroth.  Mills and Romero are the Jays prospects, the other guys are looking to get back to the big leagues in any way they can.  In 2008 Mills jumped from Lansing to New Hampshire but Mills only threw 32 innings in AA. I believe Mills will return to AA to continue to develop before exposing a fly ball pitcher to the PCL.  Davis Romero started 23 games in AAA last season with a 3.71 ERA.  It is uncertain what role the Jays see for Romero who is listed at 5'10" and 155 lbs and that might be an exaggeration.  Little pitchers don't get much respect in baseball and Romero will have to fight his way onto the team although the Jays might see him as a Brian Tallet type pitcher.  The Jays will need to get him innings so I see him in the rotation in AAA. 

Among the guys who are more "experienced" I see Bill Murphy getting the starts, the other guys, such as Burres and Bullington, future is in the bullpen. 

The AA rotation will be the same one that ended the season, Brad Mills, Brandon Magee, Luis Perez, Robert Ray and Marty McLeary.  Mills, Perez, and Ray came up to AA in mid-season and can use more time there.  McLeary was signed as a free agent and it doesn't look like he can push his way into the AAA rotation.  Finally Brandon Magee struggled through the first half of the season in 2008, as he did in 2007, and only pitched well in the last month.  He will be trying to show a consistent season to make it to AAA.  It also helps that there is no-one in Dunedin who is banging the door down to get up to AA. 

In Dunedin we still have all the starters who finished the season there but there is one new pitcher pushing his way in.  Marc Rzepczynski probably should have moved up last season but the Jays left him in Lansing for the full season.  That changes now and Zep will start in Dunedin.  The only two other pitchers who could force their way up would be Andrew Liebel and Trystan Magnuson.  Liebel was the Jays top pitcher drafted in 2008 but he was injured and didn't play much last season so I don't think the Jays will push him there.  Magnuson struggled for much of 2008 but seemed to be getting better before ending the season on the DL.  If Magnuson has developed better control the Jays could also push him to Dunedin but I think he will return to Lansing.

So in addition to Rzepczynski in Dunedin we will see several of last years starters there, Randy Boone, Reidier Gonzalez, Kyle Ginley, Kenny Rodriguez and AJ Wideman.  Ginley went to the AAFL to get some work and the Jays wanted Ginley to learn how to pitch with all his pitches rather than rely on the fastball.

So who joins Liebel and Magnuson in Lansing.  On one hand we have the Auburn crew, Castillo Perez, Joel Carreno and Josh Wells.  Each of these guys were inconsistent last season so it tough to assume they make the Lansing team but they each have potential and the Jays might favour them at the expense of guys like Jimmy Dougher.  Danny Farquhar is another 2008 draftee who pitched really well in 2008, he was a reliever last season but the Jays could make him a starter to get regular work.  Similarly for Tim Collins but it is more likely that the Jays will keep him in the bullpen.  The Jays second pitcher drafted last season was Evan Crawford in the eighth round but he is listed on the extended spring training roster so I suspect he has been injured.

Major League:  Roy Halladay; Jesse Litsch; David Purcey; Scott Richmond; Ricky Romero

AAA: Brett Cecil; Matt Clement; Casey Janssen; Bill Murphy; Davis Romero

AA: Brad Mills; Luis Perez; Robert Ray; Brandon Magee; Marty McLeary

A+: Randy Boone; Kyle Ginley; Marc Rzepczynski; Reidier Gonzalez; Kenny Rodriguez; AJ Wideman

A: Joel Carreno; Jimmy Dougher; Castillo Perez; Andrew Liebel; Trystan Magnuson; Josh Wells

Extended: Henderson Alvarez; Jonas Cuotto; Carlos Perez

We will be back on Thursday to finish with a look at the relievers.

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Mike Green - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 09:06 AM EST (#196744) #
ZIPS says that if Cecil, McGowan and Janssen are not ready at the beginning of the season, the best choice for 5th starter is Davis Romero. CHONE agrees (according to Fangraphs).  Personally, I don't know what you would have to lose in pairing up Davis Romero and Janssen for 3-4 innings each every 5 days.
Denoit - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 09:30 AM EST (#196745) #

Personally, I don't know what you would have to lose in pairing up Davis Romero and Janssen for 3-4 innings each every 5 days.

Alot of games. I think the Jays will give every chance possible for Cecil and Romero two high picks with alot of talent and a big investment to make this team. Both are on the cusp and if showing they are ready they will be there. Janssen can move back to the pen, and Davis Romero has to prove he is recoverd and can pitch in the league.

Mike Green - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 10:05 AM EST (#196747) #
Cecil is a good bet.  Ricky Romero is projected by ZIPS and CHONE to have an ERA of almost 6.   He's now had 39 starts at double A  in 2007-08 with an ERA of almost 5, while walking over 4.5 and striking out less than 7.  Whether he gets the first shot is one indicator of the balance of power between Cito and Ricciardi. 
John Northey - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 10:08 AM EST (#196748) #
Predictions for pitchers are extremely difficult.  Ask anyone who has tried and they'll tell you the horror...the horror. 
Still, lets look at some kids for fun.  I'm using ERA since these projections would use the raw skill to determine it, not the dumb luck that affects it during a season.
Z=Zips, C=Chone
Janssen: Z:3.54 ERA C:3.81 ERA (in relief)
Wolfe: Z:4.57 ERA  C:3.83 ERA (mainly relief)
Cecil: Z:4.40 ERA C:4.88 ERA
D Romero: Z:5.02 ERA C:4.69 ERA
R Romero: Z:5.90 ERA C:5.94 ERA

---Chone only---
Richmond: C:4.89 ERA
Clement: C:4.91 ERA
Mills: C:5.77 ERA

Interesting.  Cecil and D Romero appear to be the best ones for the rotation, along with Richmond and Clement (not counting the guys they only estimated for the pen).  Mills is at least a year away as is Ricky Romero based on these systems.

Still, like I said, predicting pitchers is like herding cats.  It just isn't easy and things change in a split second.  After all, who saw Litsch coming?  Not to mention Halladay's comeback from his 10+ ERA season so quickly.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 10:37 AM EST (#196750) #
It looks like Cecil will get every chance to win a rotation spot. Ricciardi was talking about Janssen a lot in the off-season, but I haven't heard anything about him so far this spring, so who knows? Scott Richmond would seem a pretty good bet for the fifth starter spot right now; it would be nice if Matt Clement turns out to be healthy, though I don't know how likely that is, and I desperately hope things don't get so bad that Mike Maroth claims a rotation spot.

Romero seemed to figure something out in the second half last year, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea to rush him to the majors now.

John Northey - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 11:31 AM EST (#196753) #
More tea leaves - from Rotoworld - Cito saying that Janssen might start out in the pen this year.  Thus our pen is now likely to be Ryan/Downs/Carlson/League/Tallet/Frasor/Accardo/Janssen/Wolfe/Camp - errrr, that is 10 guys for a maximum of 7 slots.  Hrm.  Might be a problem as I doubt we'll see 3 of them injured this spring.
ramone - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 11:37 AM EST (#196754) #
Does Oakland need any relief pitchers?  Perhaps there is a deal brewing for Cust or Crosby (If Cabrera signs with the A's).
Gerry - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 11:48 AM EST (#196755) #
Ricky Romero had a very strong finish to 2008.  If you look at a forecast system based on his 2008 numbers for the season there is not much optimism for 2009, but if you believe his last six weeks or so are the basis for 2009 then you can be optimistic.  Is the 2009 Ricky a continuation of August? 
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:18 PM EST (#196758) #
I wouldn't go that far.  Ricky had seven pretty good starts at triple A.  He still walked too many, and by late August, he was facing the triple A franchises of contending teams.

It isn't a disaster if Romero gets his shot in 2009.  The team isn't likely to do very much, and if ownership needs to give a Ricciardi 1st rounder a look as part of a review of his tenure, so be it.  On the whole though, it would be much better for Romero's future if he got his shot after Ricciardi is gone.  He could go into it knowing that he had earned it, and that would help his confidence.  Even better would be to start him in the pen midway in the season, but at this point, there are no vacancies.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:38 PM EST (#196760) #
It wasn't just August: From June to August (, his WHIP and bb/9 went down and his k/9 went up each month. Which still didn't leave him with a great line, but it's encouraging.

I'd be inclined to stick him back at AAA, but there are probably worse things than having him hang out with Doc, Arnsberg, and Litsch in Toronto.

John Northey - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:49 PM EST (#196761) #
I think the Jays would be smart to give one of Cecil or R Romero a shot to start the season as with McGowan coming back soon they'd have a shot at tasting the majors then spending more time in AAA with a new hunger (worked well with Litsch).  While the service clock would be started, it wouldn't be hard to give them at least a week or two in AAA thus making it so it doesn't cause the Jays to lose a year later.
timpinder - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:52 PM EST (#196762) #

Speaking of Doc, is he ever awesome:

If the Jays did trade Halladay, I know I'd miss him and I'd be cheering for the contending team that he was traded to.  If it happened and I were Ricciardi I'd make sure I packaged Wells with Halladay, much like the Marlins did with Lowell and Beckett.  If Halladay was getting traded it would be because the Jays weren't close, might as well dump salary and go with a proper rebuild.

With the suggestion by Cito that Janssen might start in the bullpen, my guess is that you can add Wolfe's name to the list of potential starters.  It has been talked about before, they started stretching him out in AAA last year, and the Jays' bullpen is overloaded while the rotation is bare.  It makes perfect sense.

92-93 - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:59 PM EST (#196765) #
Davis' numbers are very impressive, and I've discussed them numerous times. I don't get why he has never been talked about more as having a future, I guess even the Jays own scouts aren't too high on him despite the stellar results. Anyone want to shed light on why?
Magpie - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 03:21 PM EST (#196784) #
even the Jays own scouts aren't too high on him despite the stellar results. Anyone want to shed light on why?

Because he's 5-10.
MatO - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 03:53 PM EST (#196786) #
Romero also missed all of 2007 because of labrum surgery, so last year was a year to re-establish himself.  I think that he went down with another injury right at the end of last year as well
Pistol - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 04:32 PM EST (#196788) #
Because he's 5-10.

And looks like he barely weights 150.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, February 25 2009 @ 01:29 AM EST (#196801) #
Was Lester good last year for the Sox? Yes, I think so too.

WELL - you heard it here first - CECIL is NO QUESTION going to have a better career than Lester. In fact, if it wasn't that Brett had been a closer in college and therefore had to be spoon fed innings as a pro - I BELIEVE - he would be being mentioned JUST BELOW Price. Cecil will be an ACE. IF Brett gets his 170 innings this year in the bigs - I predict - here and now - those 170 innings will be better than AJ's over in the big smoke.

BY MID-SEASON 09 - Halladay, Cecil, McGowan, Litsch and Purcey. In 2010 add into the mix: Marcum and Mills and Rzepczynski (MAN I love that guy's name!).

Starting pitching sorted. By the way - there are at least another 5 or 6 in the lower minors that will be knocking on the starting door soon.

Alex Obal - Wednesday, February 25 2009 @ 04:03 AM EST (#196804) #
I picked up Baseball Prospectus 2009 the other day. (For the projections, OK?) Unsurprisingly, PECOTA likes Davis Romero it has him with a 4.31 ERA and a 59/27 K/BB ratio in 81.1 innings, as a swingman who starts 12 of his 27 appearances. I would be very happy to take that, if the goal this year is to contend. One of Davis' comps is Gustavo Chacin. PECOTA is less excited about Ricky, who gets a 5.86 ERA as a starter.
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