We’ve arrived in Buffalo, the last spot on our tour of the projected rosters for the Toronto Blue Jays. Today we try to project the pitchers of the Buffalo Bisons for the opening of the 2017 season.
The Bisons’ pitching staff is, of course, highly determined by who makes the Blue Jays. While there are relatively few real battles for pitchers, outside of a couple of spots at the back of the bullpen, the question of minor league options always remains to be seen as we see who gets through waivers at the start of the season.
Lawrence, a seven-year veteran of the Blue Jays’ minor leagues, had always been a sinker ball pitcher with the best control in the system. But last year, his velocity ticked up in the low 90s, making him a dark horse candidate to be in the big leagues at some point this year. He still only has under 100 innings in Triple-A in his career and will be useful to the Blue Jays as a depth starter.
Harrell has pitched parts of six years in the major leagues, throwing 448 2/3 innings and making 71 starts. He’s been used exclusively as a starter since 2012 and the 31-year-old righty will likely pitch in Buffalo to start.
Grube is another pitcher the Blue Jays signed over the offseason with major league experience. The 35-year-old has been around the world to play, pitching in Mexico in 2015 and in the Cleveland and Seattle systems in 2016.
House, 27, brings some ML experience to the Buffalo rotation if he starts. He’s got experience both in the rotation and the bullpen so there’s a chance that he does either one.
On the Bubble
Floyd is on the bubble mainly because he could be on the big club or in Buffalo, thanks to his minor league contract. Floyd pitched well with the Blue Jays before landing on the DL, adding to his injury woes over the past few years.
Latos is another bubble guy, mainly because he has a minor league deal. Latos can opt out of his contract if he doesn’t make the major league team so there’s a fairly significant chance that he doesn’t even pitch in Buffalo, even if he’s not on the Jays’ 25-man roster to start the season.
Cole, as mentioned before, had a full season in Double-A in 2015 before missing a big chunk of 2015 with a shoulder injury. When he returned he was solid if unspectacular but has the stuff to pitch in Buffalo and, with a year and a half of Double-A experience, he could land just over the border.
Dawson is another homegrown pitcher who could wind up starting the season in Buffalo. He had a solid year in New Hampshire and is the type of pitcher who does well in Triple-A. Buffalo has seen a lot of similar, finesse lefties in the past few years and Dawson can join the list if he’s needed.
Girodo, a lefty specialist, was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this spring but he’ll be out there in Buffalo, sidewinding away.
I’d love to see Danny Barnes crack the big league roster but I don’t think it’s going to happen. He’s going to bring his outstanding strikeout rates from 2016 to Buffalo to start this year.
While Smith is getting a lot of praise this spring, like Barnes, I don’t think he’s going to make the big league roster. Still, his high 90s fastball is going to be on display in Buffalo.
Dermody, another lefty, remains on the Jays’ 40-man roster, but having option years remaining can be a curse. Dermody will also pitch in Buffalo.
Campos was taken off the 40-man roster this spring as well and has 30 innings of major league experience under his belt. That said, the 29 year old is likely to remain in Buffalo for most of the year.
McFarland is coming back from injury and could start in New Hampshire or Dunedin just to make sure that his arm is working properly. Still, he’ll spend most of his time in Buffalo, I think.
A lefty with big league experience, Beliveau has a wild streak but has posted stellar strikeout numbers throughout his pro career.
Oberholtzer, a 27-year-old lefty, has 324 innings of major league experience both as a starter and as a reliever and could pitch in either role for the Bisons in 2017.
On the Bubble
Bolsinger has started and relieved but is now out of options and the 29 year old doesn’t have a long track record of success in the majors but he did have a 3.62 ERA in 21 starts over 109 1/3 innings with the Dodgers in 2015.
Another out-of-options pitcher, Schultz, 31, didn’t impress in Toronto last year with just 10 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings and a 5.51 ERA. He may stay on the 25-man just to make sure he’s not lost to waivers but I think he’ll be in Buffalo this year if he’s not claimed.
While Schultz and Bolsinger are out of options, Tepera has one option year remaining, meaning that he’s more likely to head to Buffalo to start the year than the other two although I might wager that Tepera spends more time in Toronto than either Bolsinger or Schultz.
I’d say that Browning, 28, is on the bubble with New Hampshire but he’s done so well over the past few years that he may force his hand into Buffalo this season.
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