Blue Jay Way
June 17, 2006

I'm not a big fan of schadenfreude but I must admit I have felt some satisfaction in watching Casey Janssens's last couple of outings.  I don't want to see him fail.  It's just from what I've seen, there really wasn't any reason to expect him to succeed.  Or at least to continue pitching as well as he had in April and May.  I could have sworn that I wrote about him shortly after he was called up.  Then again, I thought I had written about the how deceptive minor league numbers can be.  As it turns out, I had written about that topic just a month ago but simply couldn't find it.  Thanks to those of you who suggested I must ne losing my mind... you might be right. 

Anyway, I thought I had written about a month ago that I didn't think Janssen would be long for the Blue Jay rotation because he didn't fool hitters with his stuff.  More precisely, that hitters didn't swing and miss.  He got strikes primarily by getting fouls and calls.  That works in the short term, but eventually hitters will get his timing and start hitting him... hard.  Just looking at his last two outings, against the Orioles and Marlins of all teams, that appears to be happening now.  Put another way, he's given up at least 4 earned runs in five of eleven starts.  Take out his two starts against the Angels, which came fairly early in his major league tenure, and his ERA is 6.24 and WHIP is 1.567.  How's his style gonna play against the division rival Yankees and Red Sox against whom he's yet to face?  My guess is not well.  Sure, his K/BB rate is nice, but so was Josh Towers and we see how well that has turned out.  Casey Janssen's time in the Blue Jay rotation will be coming to a close very soon. 

Niether Towers or Ty Taubenheim will be taking his spot either.  AJ Burnett's return will take one of the spots not currently occupied by Roy Halladay or Ted Lilly.  By the way, anyone noticing that Lilly has 20 Ks over his last two outings?  He still has the problem with home runs, so his ERA will remain higher than expected, but he's looking more confident recently.  I'm not comfortable recommending him for the second half yet because of the homer problem, but if he can start keeping the ball in the park particularly at home, he will be a fantastic stretch run buy.

If Gustavo Chacin arm troubles turn out to be serious, the guy I think will end up with the rotation spot is Dustin McGowan.  He pitched out of the bullpen for the first part of the season before getting sent down to stretch him out for starting and refine his command.  Since being sent down, he's evolved into the kind of starter the Jays hoped he would become.  His first start in Triple-A Syracuse was cut short by a long rain delay and he had one poor start shortly after.  But three of his last four have been borderline brilliant, punctuated by his last outing in which he went six innings, allowed four hits (all singles) no runs, one walk and nine strikeouts.  All totalled, he's pitched 28 innings with a 3.21 ERA, 1.3214 WHIP with 31 strikeouts against just 12 walks since his demotion.  Most importantly, he's taken significant steps to reign in his home run rate.  I imagine the Jays will give Janssen and Taubenheim one or two more chances to prove they belong.  By then McGowan will probably be ready for his major league audition as a starter. 

Early on this season I thought Francisco Rosario would probably be the one to get a shot in the rotation.  And after a fairly strong start, that looked like a pretty decent guess.  But since giving up a home run to Jamey Carroll in Colorado (May 19), he has had only one outing in which he's not given up a run and struck out more than he's walked.  In ten outings, that's not good.  I expect he'll be sent back down fairly soon unless he turns things around very quickly.