AL East 2017 Positional Rankings: The Need for Strong Starters in the Division

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Pitcher Wade Miley
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Pitcher Wade Miley /
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4. Toronto Blue Jays – Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano, Joe Biagini, Aaron Sanchez

If I said Sanchez only made eight starts, you would probably start to understand how things went south for the Blue Jays. Stroman was great, 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA. Estrada and Liriano fell down to Earth, with 4.98 and 5.88 ERAs respectively. Happ was pretty good and fairly close to 2016 with a 3.53 ERA, but he was only 10-11, clearly being let down by an offense that struggled at times. Happ also only made 25 starts.

Biagini, the 2016 Rule 5 pick, started out well in the rotation, but ended the season with a 5.34 ERA and a 3-13 record, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. It was a tough year for the 27-year-old.

The Blue Jays allowed 4.84 runs per game, closer to the league average of 4.65 but still on the worse side, which was eighth-worst (or seventh-best) in the American League. Their starters only garnered 47 wins on the year, a low number for a team with veteran starters. That was fifth-worst in the American League.

Their starters combined for 60 losses, also fifth-worst in the AL. Fourty-three percent of the starts by Blue Jays’ starters were quality starts, seventh-best in the AL and right near the MLB-average of 44%.

One thing worth noting is that the Blue Jays had the worst best game score in all of baseball, a 76. So, none of their starters had an exceptional game. In fact, only the Phillies joined them in not having a score in the 80s.

Toronto was second-worst in the AL in runners left on base when pitchers exited at 285. What was expected to be a moderate strength of the team fell apart, and the Blue Jays’ starting pitching was part of a frustrating year in Toronto in 2017.

As for next year, Stroman, Happ, Estrada and Sanchez will all be back, as will Biagini if they want him to fill a starter’s role, but my guess is they have their sights set much higher. It will be the last year on both Happ and Estrada’s contracts, however.