My Kingdom for a Starter

Thursday, June 21 2012 @ 11:11 AM EDT

Contributed by: Gerry

That title might be the thoughts in Alex Anthopoulos' mind today as he reviews the rotation.  I am not sure if everyone caught the subtext to the news of Drew Hutchison's visit to the doctor.  He is deciding whether to have Tommy John surgery now or try and rehab in the short term knowing he will probably have to have it later.  Kyle Drabek has had his TJ and is in recovery.  Meanwhile Jesse Litsch has had another operation and is out for the season.  Sergio Santos and Dustin McGowan are still not pitching.

Based on all these news items the Blue Jays have starting pitching problems for the rest of the year, but also for 2013.

First the news.  John Farrell's comments on Drew Hutchison were as follows, in my words.  Drew saw the doctor, he has a small tear in his ligament, he can try and rehab it now or he can elect to have TJ surgery and get it over with.  If he rehabs it now, he will likely need TJ surgery at some time in the future.  Drew will have some additional tests on Wednesday and then he will discuss his options with his family.  We should know his decision on Friday.

I assume the Jays, and/or the doctor, have given a recommendation to Drew.  I don't know what it is but if TJ is likely the team would probably prefer he gets it now.  I know the team is desperate for starters this year but having a guy like Hutchison in your roation now would be like having a time bomb there.  You never know when his ligament is going to tear and when he will be lost to the club.  So you always have to have a replacement in the wings.  My guess is that he elects to have TJ surgery on Friday.

Kyle Drabek had his second TJ surgery on Tuesday.  He joins a select few to have two TJ's including Jason Frasor and Chris Capuano.  Keith Law has suggested that Drabek's future might be in the bullpen, that maybe his arm and body might not be able to handle starting after two surgeries.  I don't know the Blue Jays opinion on this.

Jesse Litsch has had a tough year.  There is an interview with him on the Fan590 website.  As the tried to come back from the shoulder infection he had in the spring he could not get comfortable throwing.  He had an operation last week to re-attach his bicep.  According to him Brandon Lyon is the only other pitcher to have this surgery.  Litsch is out for the year and is a free agent at the end of the year.  In these cases the incumbent club has the best understanding of his condition and the Jays should be in the best position to offer him a contract if they think he can come back from the surgery.

So who do the Jays use as starters for 2012?  Ricky Romero is the only sure thing.  Hopefully Brandon Morrow will be back in late July for the last two months of the season.  Henderson Alvarez, in a normal year, would be looking at a trip to the minors to get back in gear.  As things stand now he will have to figure out what will work for him in the major leagues and that is always a risky proposition.  If he gets beaten up a couple of more times the team might be forced to get him to the minors.

There are three open spots right now.  The three starters inthose spots are Brett Cecil, Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno.  Cecil is a start-to-start guy right now.  Chavez is good for one more start but then it's a start to start situation.  Carreno may or may not get another start.  Who else is there?  Many here support Carlos Villuaneva and Luis Perez.  Both have had their ups and downs as relievers and in Villy's case as a starter.  Their chances of sustained success as starters are not high.  Who would be next in line?  Andrew Carpenter is pitching well in Las Vegas.  Chad Jenkins is pitching well in New Hampshire.  Aaron Laffey is in the bullpen.  Would you be confident in any of those guys?  I don't think I would be.

But what of 2013?  You would assume that you would start Romero, Morrow and Alvarez.  Can Cecil be the number 4?  Who is the number 5?  The farm doesn't have a lot of imminent help.  Chad Jenkins seems to be the closest of the prospects.  John Stilson and Asher Wojciechowski could be ready by the end of 2013 but some evaluators see them as relievers.  An optimistic case for the Aaron Sanchez type pitchers would be 2014.

I believe the Jays will need to acquire a starting pitcher or two for the 2013 season.  As AA looks at mid-season trades can he find a pitcher?  What about free-agents?  Starting pitchers have become job 1 for the boss.

And finally, AA was on the Fan earlier this week and downplayed the Jeremy Guthrie rumours.  He said he likes to know what he is getting in a trade and without mentioning Guthrie specifically he said there was too much uncertainty with Guthrie.

What would you do?