Ok, the Buffalo Bisons’ starters were not the best this year. In fact, the two best pitchers for the club were traded away but let’s take a look at who was just over the border in Buffalo this year.
Scott Diamond led the Bisons in games and innings with 28 and 166 respectively while also pitching in one inning with the big club. The now-30-year-old Canadian lefty was able to eat innings but was only marginally effective with a 4.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 14.4% strikeout rate and 4.6% walk rate. Those numbers came from a BABIP that was right around average (.290). Diamond’s sole appearance in Toronto was nothing short of a disaster as he walked two, gave up two hits and three runs in just one inning of work. Diamond will likely be a free agent but I wouldn’t rule out the Jays re-signing him to give the Bisons a starter who take his turn in the rotation every fifth day.
Another Canadian, Chris Leroux, 32, came in second for the Bisons with 140 1/3 innings pitched. He also didn’t fare all that well, with a 4.87 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 15.3% strikeout rate and 7.6% walk rate. Leroux was released by the Jays at the end of August.
Drew Hutchison was banished to Triple-A with the re-signing of J.A. Happ and the emergence of Aaron Sanchez (and his own lack of results with the big league squad) and he turned himself into a solid trade chip, going to Pittsburgh on August 1 for Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez. Hutch acquitted himself nicely in Buffalo, throwing 102 innings and posting a 3.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, an excellent 26.4% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate. He made three appearances for the Blue Jays, throwing 12 2/3 innings with a 4.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 22.6% strikeout rate and 7.6% walk rate while also logging another 11 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh, allowing seven runs on 15 hits and three walks in 11 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. Hutchison wasn’t as sharp pitching for Indianapolis, however, throwing 36 innings and walking 9.4% with a 17.5% strikeout rate.
Casey Lawrence, at the age of 28, finally spent most of a season in Triple-A. This year, after a couple of previous tastes of baseball’s penultimate level in North America, Lawrence finally stuck in Buffalo, throwing 87 innings as one of the club’s better starters. A righty who relies on his control, Lawrence started the season in Buffalo but things didn’t go well: he allowed 13 runs in 12 2/3 innings, uncharacteristically walking six. Sent back to New Hampshire, Lawrence threw 75 innings with the Fisher Cats over 13 starts, with a 4.56 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, a 15.7% strikeout rate and a very typical 4.1% walk rate. Despite a high BABIP and a lot of hits against, Lawrence came back to Buffalo in July and was far more effective, limiting opponents to a .617 OPS over 74 1/3 innings with 53 strikeouts and 18 walks. Overall for Buffalo, he had a 3.83 ERA, 1.28 WHIP with a 15.7% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate. Lawrence can become a free agent this year but I can see him re-signing with the Blue Jays.
32-year-old Wade LeBlanc joined the Jays on a minor league contract and did nothing but dominate in Buffalo. LeBlanc tossed 89 2/3 innings over 14 starts and held the opposition to 1.71 earned runs per nine innings while having a 1.17 WHIP with a 23.0% strikeout rate and 5.7% walk rate. The 32-year-old veteran lefty returned to the majors after getting sent to Seattle and he pitched for the Mariners and Pirates, walking just 4.4% of batters and striking out 20.2% in 62 big league innings with a 3.77 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. We congratulate LeBlanc winning the Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year award for the Bisons this year and also getting back to the majors and sticking.
Another big league retread in the Buffalo Bisons’ rotation this year was Roberto Hernandez (the former Fausto Carmona). Signed in December, released at the end of spring training and then re-signed in late April, Hernandez made 13 starts for Buffalo, throwing 71 1/3 innings with a 4.42 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 15.5% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. He was released by the Blue Jays (possibly at Hernandez’s request) on July 3 and caught on with the Braves two weeks later, making three starts with Triple-A Gwinnett and two starts in the big leagues (getting hit for eight runs and four home runs over nine innings) before getting designated for assignment. Hernandez has elected free agency.
Scott Copeland gave things a go in Korea this year but returned after 63 1/3 innings in which he had a 5.54 ERA and 1.78 with 42 walks and 34 strikeouts. When he rejoined the Bisons, Copeland pitched much better, throwing 50 1/3 innings with a 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 15.9% strikeout rate and 8.2% walk rate. Copeland could be a free agent after the season.
Traded on August 1 to the Blue Jays for Jesse Chavez, Mike Bolsinger, 28, made six starts for the Buffalo Bisons with unimpressive results. Bolsinger fared far better in Triple-A Oklahoma City, mostly working out of the bullpen with a 3.41 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over 29 innings, striking out 27.4% and walking 8.1% but he had a 6.83 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings with the Dodgers, striking out 20.5% and walking 7.4%. In Buffalo, he struggled to a 6.04 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 25 1/3 innings, striking out 23.7% and walking 9.7%. Bolsinger is on the Jays’ 40-man roster and likely will start the season in Buffalo next year but he could be moved to a relief role.
Arnold Leon made two appearances in Toronto, getting hammered early in the season and getting sent down to Buffalo where he made three appearances (two starts and one relief appearance). He wasn’t bad at all, allowing just three runs on 11 hits and two walks in 12 inning with a whopping 16 strikeouts before the Koreans came calling. He went to Korea and allowed 10 runs over eight innings before injuring his shoulder.
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