Predicting the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2014 Starting Rotation

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Toronto Blue Jays Rotation

Jays
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays made big moves last season to try to be competitive in the American League East. Nothing they did seemed to work out. They brought in the reigning Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. They made a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins to score Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. That was on top of having a good rotation led by Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.

The rotation ended up falling apart throughout the season. They ended up 25th in the league with a team ERA of 4.25. Romero ended up having an ERA over 11 in the four appearances he made. The best ERA of anyone who made more than three starts was Buehrle with 4.15. Something that was supposed to be a strength ended up being this team's biggest weakness.

Is this year going to be any different? Are major changes on the horizon? Johnson took his 6.20 ERA back to the National League. That leaves at least one spot open in the rotation. I highly doubt Romero will see anything close to a rotation spot. That leaves a few questions coming into the season.

The main objective for this season is to get more quality starts. For those of you who don't know, a quality start is one in which the starter makes it at least six innings without allowing more than three runs. They were 28th in the league with only 67 in 2013. They need to get that number near 85-90 if they want to once again be a force in the AL East. Here are the five guys who will be looking to hit that number.

Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site's NFL, NBA and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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5. Dustin McGowen

Jays
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

This is where anything can happen. There are about six players who are going for that No. 5 starter position. Drew Hutchison is a player many see as a front-runner even though he missed all of last season. He played well in the Arizona Fall League coming off Tommy John Surgery. Romero is the name everyone recognizes in the race. Esmil Rogers is currently listed by ESPN as the fifth starter. I am still going with Dustin McGowan to win the spot. He was once a starter for them, and was so-so at best. He came out of the bullpen last season and was very good, providing his best ERA of his career. The renewed confidence will revitalize a career that looked like it was dead.

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4. J.A. Happ

Jays
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The once promising career for J.A. Happ is now down to a hope he can come back to form. After looking like a future star, he was the main piece in the Philadelphia Phillies trade for Roy Oswalt. If he can't turn it around he will be no more than a trivia answer. He had a great end to the season, pitching to a 2.97 ERA in September. If he can do that on a somewhat consistent basis, then he will be a stalwart to this rotation in 2014. Consistency is key for him to be an asset for the Blue Jays. If he can't, then his career may be over very soon. Consistency is key for him to be an asset for the Blue Jays. If he can't, then his career may be over very soon.

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3. Mark Buehrle

Jays
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Buehrle is a player who at one point was the best pitcher on a World Series champion. Those days are long gone, but he can still be a very big part of a good staff. He is by far the most durable starter, not only on the Blue Jays, but maybe in the Major Leagues. He has yet to make less than 28 starts in a season, ever. He is a workhorse and will eat up innings for a team that desperately needs it. He could be the guy who holds this rotation together.

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2. Brandon Morrow

Jays
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

I said before that Morrow and Romero were supposed to be the in-house anchors to this Blue Jays rotation. Romero has already flamed out, and Morrow looked like he could be on that same path. He only made 10 starts last season, and he was awful in all of them. The pressure is not so much on this team, or on Morrow, this season. Hopefully he regrouped this offseason and can be the guy they thought they had when they got him from the Seattle Mariners. He needs to be a legit No. 2 if this team is going to have a shot.

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1. R.A. Dickey

Jays
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Dickey had a large fall from grace when his ERA jumped a run and a half from the year before. He allowed more than 30 more runs and started the same amount of games. The past three years have seen him allow more home runs every year. I see a comeback for Dickey in 2014. He is 39 years old, so this may be his final season. He was a guy who nobody expected to make it this far anyway. Now that he has had a season to get used to the AL East, he will be much better. He knows he is near the end, and he will make the most of it this season.

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