JABO: The Value of Marco Estrada

The Blue Jays may have won the winter by acquiring Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, but no team has lost the spring more than Toronto, who saw young hurler Marcus Stroman tear his ACL in a workout on Tuesday morning. Surgery to repair the ligament will cost him the entire season, and opens up a gaping hole in in the Jays rotation; even though he was young, Stroman projected as the team’s best pitcher, and one of the best pitchers in the entire league.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, speculation immediately began to link the Blue Jays and the Phillies, who have been waiting for an opportunity just like this to convince a team to pay dearly for Cole Hamels. GM Alex Anthoplous was pretty quick to downplay that idea, however; after stating there are few aces available this time of year, he added “Actually there might be one, but I don’t know that we can afford that right now.” For now, at least, it seems the Blue Jays will look in-house to replace Stroman.

Young hurlers Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez are likely to get much longer looks now, and with Stroman out of the picture, at least one of the two likely break camp in the rotation, with the other fighting Marco Estrada for the last starting spot on the team. Unlike the young guns, Estrada doesn’t possess a particularly strong fastball, and certainly has the least upside of the three. But if the Jays really are going to stay with what they have, then I’d argue that Estrada might be their best option to replace Stroman, at least in the short-term.

There’s no question that Estrada was terrible in Milwaukee a year ago, particularly with his inability to keep the ball in the yard; he allowed 29 home runs in just 150 innings. When you don’t locate an 89 mph fastball particularly well, it often gets crushed, and Estrada looked like he was throwing batting practice for a large portion of the 2014 season. Estrada’s entire game is about commanding the top of the strike zone, and last year, he simply missed his spots too many times.

But there are reasons to think that, even with a mediocre fastball, Estrada’s up-in-the-zone preference can actually work to his advantage. While the result of this style of pitching is often a home run problem, that negative can be offset by inducing a large number of infield flies, which are basically equivalent to a strikeout. And few pitchers in baseball generate popups at the same rate as Estrada.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

18 Comments
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Mark
8 years ago

This is the obvious solution. Norris/Estrada to the rotation, and Sanchez can throw multiple dominant innings out of the pen. And like you said, they can always trade someone if they’re close.

And they better be close, because as a Jays fan, I’m tired of seeing the primes of elite players like Halladay & Bautista being wasted on 500 or below seasons.

PJ
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Who or what are they going to trade with? Their farm system is pretty much on life support.

holymoly
8 years ago
Reply to  PJ

funny joke, PJ.

PJ
8 years ago
Reply to  holymoly

Not as funny as expecting to land Hamels when Phils are asking for prospects in the Betts, Severino, Martinez tier.

Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  PJ

Can’t tell if serious.

PJ
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Great argument, sir. I am thoroughly convinced now.