About three weeks ago I wrote a piece about the youth of Toronto’s rotation. At 24.8 years old, it was going to be the third youngest rotation in the history of the franchise.
But that was the age of my projected starting rotation – Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Drabek, and Rzepczynski. While that may very well be the way the season ends, it will not be how the season starts.
It’s been known for a few days that Rzep would not start the season as a starter, and yesterday came the news that Morrow will start 2011 on the DL with elbow trouble. Jesse Litsch and Jo-Jo Reyes have been handed the keys to the rotation. Impact to the average age? Up from 24.8 to 25 – the fifth youngest in history.
But that’s not what this column is about. This column is about new blood. This column is about excitement.
The new blood I am referring to is Jo-Jo Reyes. The man once thought of as the throw-in to the Yunel Escobar deal, has been making quite a name for himself in spring training. Watching him dominate the Yankees last night – 2 hits over 6 scoreless innings – (with an actual lineup too!), was a great sight to see.
The excitement level surrounding him, at least in my book, is high, but considering the past few seasons it’s even higher.
Think back to the fresh faces who opened the season in the rotation the past few years. Some were former draft picks that fans were curious about, but mainly skeptical of (David Purcey, Ricky Romero). Some were new acquisitions surrounded in mystery (hybrid starter/reliever/unknown Brandon Morrow). And some were just plain awful (Tomo Ohka, Victor Zambrano, Dana Eveland).
But this…this seems different. Reyes was a high draft pick (2nd round in 2003 by the Braves). He pitched well in the minors in ’08 and ’09 with Atlanta. He went 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings for AA New Hampshire after being acquired by the Jays last year.
And he has thoroughly dominated this spring: 1-1, 3.32 ERA in 19 IP with 12 K’s, including last nights gem against the Yanks.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not happy that Rzep struggled so much or that Morrow is hurt.
But now that Reyes has his chance, the excitement begins.
New blood baby!