It was never in doubt.
There were a number of interesting details gleaned from the team’s annual State of the Franchise meeting about what 2013 might bring from the Toronto Blue Jays, but there was no question about who would be the team’s starting pitcher on opening day.
The team will send out 38-year old knuckleballer and reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to take on the Cleveland Indians when the season opens. Call it the Occam’s razor approach: Dickey was the team’s most prized acquisition in the off-season and he’s the starter on the team with the best record over the last two seasons, as well as the arm with the best track record of reliability.
With the dramatically-retooled Blue Jays rotation that also saw former Miami Marlins ace Josh Johnson and workhorse Mark Buehrle joining the existing pair of Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, it’s not as though the team were without choices. Johnson might have the most upside of the bunch if he can put his injury history behind him and Morrow was one of the AL’s best in a breakout 2012 before an oblique brought his season to an abrupt end. Both may end up with better numbers than R.A., but there are questions that both will have to answer with their performances before we get there.
On the other hand, going with Dickey on opening day leaves very few questions. He doesn’t have the injury history and he’s coming off a season in which he was named the best pitcher in the national league.
But how about after?
Well, according to manager John Gibbons, the team will go with Morrow, Buehrle, Johnson and Romero in that order following Dickey’s debut. While Johnson is the pitcher with the higher upside, it looks as though he team is making a tactical choice of mixing a soft-tosser and lefty in Buehrle between a couple of hard-throwers, as opposed to rolling Morrow and Johnson on back-to-back nights and giving teams a consecutive look at guys with similar stuff.
That too, is a logical choice. The acquisition of Dickey, with the team going all-in by trading its best, can’t miss prospect, encapsulated Blue Jays’ off-season makeover, and it’s fitting that the knuckleballer should be the one to lead this team on the mound when they make their first impression in 2013. Well, “if he’s ready to go” anyway, as Gibby said.
He will be.