As the Toronto Blue Jays prepare to host the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. ET, one Opening Day question lingering on many minds will be whether the new-look pitching staff will be good enough to compete in the American League East. Toronto dominated the basement of nearly every major pitching category in 2012 and will look to new faces and arms to right the ship this year.
As far as the first start goes, there is plenty reason for optimism. Offseason acquisition R.A. Dickey heads the rotation to commence 2013 after a 2012 campaign that saw him claim the National League Cy Young Award. The 38-year-old knuckleballer stil has plenty to prove and must ensure 2012 was no one-season wonder, having never finished higher than 14th in Cy Young voting before.
Yahoo Sports’ Mark Townsend ranks him as the seventh-best Opening Day starter in the league: “The knuckleball comes to Canada. Will a division championship (or better) come along with it?”
Brendan Morrow remains the only familiar face to return from last season’s horrendous starting staff, with 2012 Opening Day starter Ricky Romero demoted to the minors after a poor spring training run. Morrow by many metrics seemed to take another step last season, recording his lowest-ever ERA at 2.94 to break the four-mark for the first time since 2008.
Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle comprise the big starting-pitching haul from the Miami Marlins‘ fire sale, as the two try to wipe away the memories from that sinking ship. Along with J.A. Happ, this rotation figures to help give Toronto a fighting chance in the AL East.