At the conclusion of the 2012 season, the Toronto Blue Jays brain trust identified issues with their pitching staff, and made a plan to improve their rotation throughout the off-season. Improve upon it they did, acquiring R.A Dickey, Josh Johnson and veteran Mark Buehlre. The acquisitions changed the entire complexion of the rotation.
There was some troubling statistics that fueled general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ off-season motivation.
The Jays pitchers surrendered the most home runs in the major leagues, serving up 204 round trippers. To make matters worse, the Jays pitching staff also led the majors in total base-on balls with 574 free passes in 2012. The Blue Jays starters and relief pitchers both ranked 25th in the majors in ERA.
Opening day starter Ricky Romero imploded, leading the majors in walks with 105, and tied for second in earned runs and runs allowed. Romero will get an opportunity to regain his form of years past in the fifth spot of the Jays rotation this season. It will be interesting to see how long his leash is if he falters early.
Compounding the problem were the untimely injuries to Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and rookie Drew Hutchison. Both Drabek and Hutchison required season-ending surgery, and are still on the shelf rehabbing for mid-seasons returns.
The acquisition of Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey should greatly improve the rotation. Look for that knuckler to dance like no other this season in the controlled confines of the Rogers Centre. The resurgence of Josh Johnson and the veteran presence of Mark Buehrle will go a long way to the Blue Jays asserting themselves as a force to be reckoned within the American League East.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.