Yesterday, over at Battersbox.ca, Gerry McDonald wondered who would be the starting pitchers in Buffalo. With Ricky Romero and Johan Santana not quite ready to return to action and with Daniel Norris in the big leagues, there’s not much starting depth right now. The Blue Jays remedied that by signing former major leaguer Felix Doubront to a minor league deal.
Doubront is a 27-year-old, 6-foot-2 lefty from Venezuela who was one of the biggest surprises for the 2012 Boston Red Sox, throwing 161 innings and striking out over a batter per inning with some decent peripherals. He had an even better 2013 (statistically), with a lower ERA and FIP and slightly lower WHIP despite a drop in his strikeout total over almost the same number of innings.
Things started to go south for Doubront in 2014 as he continued to lose velocity (averaging 93.4 mph in 2011 but down to 90.5 mph in 2013 and 89.5 mph in 2014). Doubront’s ERA ballooned last season to 6.07 with the Red Sox and he was traded at the deadline to the Chicago Cubs for Marco Hernandez (the player to be named later). Doubront pitched better for the Cubs over 20 1/3 innings, but his velocity continued to erode (just averaging 89.7 mph on his fastball and he was throwing a cutter at 86.5 mph more often).
It appears that the use of the cutter in 2014, up to 36.9% of his pitches with the Cubs, had Doubront pitching to contact rather than pitching for a strikeout as his K/9 rate was at 3.5 with the Cubs despite a career-low 3.1 BB/9 rate.
Doubront provides another starter in Buffalo who, if he recovers some velocity (he’s only 27) or figures out how to miss bats again, could be a depth piece for the major league club. Doubront also adds some depth if the Blue Jays go with Ryan Goins on the Opening Day roster (he certainly helped his case yesterday against the Red Sox in Grapefruit League action) and end up losing Liam Hendriks on waivers.
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