Toronto Blue Jays 2010 Report Cards – Starting Rotation

Part four of the report card columns.  Today we look at the starters from 2010.

Note 1: Report Card grades are based on Performance on an absolute basis, vs. the rest of the AL, and vs. Expectations

Note 2: I’m using 10 starts as a cutoff for this column, meaning players such as Jessie Litsch, Dana Eveland, Kyle Drabek, Brad Mills, and Shawn Hill will not be graded.

Ricky Romero

Production: 32 starts, 210.0 IP, 14 – 9, 3.73 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 174 K’s, 7.5 K/9

Rank among AL SP (82 SP with 10+ starts): IP – 13th, W – T15th, ERA – T23rd, WHIP – 34th, K/9 – 22nd

vs. Expectations: Only one big league season (13 – 9, 4.30 ERA)

The biggest concern heading into 2010 with Romero was consistency.  He tired down the sretch in 2009 and the Jays were hoping to build his arm strength and develop more consistency at the same time.  They succeeded on both fronts.  Romero bettered his ’09 stats in every major category (ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB) and was able to take his regular rotation spot right to the end of the season.  In addition his 1st and 2nd half splits were close (6-6, 3.71 ERA in the first half, 8-3, 3.75 ERA in the second).  It was expected to be another stepping stone season for Romero, but he seems to be closer to “ace” status than “developing”.

Grade: B+

Shaun Marcum

Production: 31 starts, 195.1 IP, 13 – 8, 3.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 165 K’s, 7.6 K/9

Rank among AL SP (82 SP with 10+ starts): IP – 24th, W – T18th, ERA – 20th, WHIP – 5th, K/9 – 20th

vs. Expectations: Average season pre-2010 (per Baseball Reference) – 21 starts, 130 IP, 8 – 6, 4.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 103 K’s, 7.2 K/9

Expectations were muted for Marcum in the Spring of 2010.  He was coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2009 season, and even though he showed flashes of brilliance in ’08, he was a question mark.  But Marcum turned into the rock of the Jays rotation.  He twice flirted with a no-hitter, was excellent after a loss, and pitched well all season long – especially in May (5-0, 1.85 ERA).  Plus he was a good clubhouse guy and a practical joker.  Great season.

Grade: B+

Brett Cecil

Production: 28 starts, 172.2 IP, 15 – 7, 4.22 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 117 K’s, 6.1 K/9

Rank among AL SP (82 SP with 10+ starts): IP – 37th, W – T10th, ERA – 40th, WHIP – 40th, K/9 – 46th

vs. Expectations: Only one big league season (7 – 4, 5.30 ERA)

Cecil started the season in the minors, but quickly became a staple in Toronto’s rotation.  He lead the Blue Jays in wins, had a great second half, and was one of the few Jays starters who actually pitched well on the road (7-2, 4.52 ERA).  He also can be shown as a prime example of why wins are a meaningless stat.  His best month statistically was July, where he had a 2.23 ERA but only went 1-0.  His worst month statistically was September: a 6.92 ERA but a sparkling 4-0 record.  The high ERA in September was not suprising considering he eclipsed his 2009 innings total by nearly 80, a huge jump that lead to fatigue.  Regardless, it was a great development season for Cecil, and he should be even better in 2011.

Grade: B

Brandon Morrow

Production: 26 starts, 146.1 IP, 10 – 7, 4.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 178 K’s, 10.9 K/9

Rank among AL SP (82 SP with 10+ starts): IP – 52nd, W – T37th, ERA – 50th, WHIP – 52nd, K/9 – 1st

vs. Expectations: Only half of a big league season as a starter

You can’t really fault Morrow for the inconsistency he showed early in the season after several years of being screwed around by Seattle.  After being converted from starter to closer, than back to starter, then back to closer, it was going to take time for him to develop into a starter again.  It showed in the first two months – 5.46 ERA in April, 6.52 ERA in May.  But once the calendar hit June, something clicked.  Maybe it was being partnered exclusively with Jose Molina, maybe it was some tweaks from pitching coach Bruce Walton, or maybe he finally figured it out on his own.  But he went 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA in the second half and threw the game of the season in August against Tampa (8.2 IP of no-hit ball, 17 strikeouts).  He lead the AL in K/9, but needs to figure out how to pitch on the road to be a true superstar (8-1, 2.74 ERA at home, 2-6, 6.72 ERA on the road).

Grade: B-

Marc Rzepczynski

Production: 12 starts, 63.2 IP, 4 – 4, 4.95 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 57 K’s, 8.1 K/9

Rank among AL SP (82 SP with 10+ starts): IP – 79th, W – T71st, ERA – 64th, WHIP – 77th, K/9 – 13th

vs. Expectations: Only one big league season (2 – 4, 3.67 ERA)

Rzep didn’t make his season debut until July 7, and didn’t nail down the fifth starter’s slot officially until mid-August, so it’s difficult to compare his numbers to the league.  But one glance and it’s easy to tell that he allows far too many base runners (1.60 WHIP) to be successful.  Look beyond the surface, however, and you’ll see that he was one of Toronto’s most effective starters down the stretch.  His last five starts (September 8 – October 3) were dynamite: 3-1, 2.86 ERA, 28 K in 28.1 IP).  He is only 24 years old, and with the strikeout numbers he put up in his 12 starts (top-15 in K/9) it’s obvious that once (if) he figures out baserunner prevention, Toronto will have one of the (or the) best number five man in baseball.

Grade: C-

Tomorrow we’ll wrap up with the bullpen.

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