Reports: David Price heading to Blue Jays

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays are set to acquire David Price from the Tigers. Top pitching prospect Daniel Norris and top outfield prospect Anthony Alford are part of the package heading back to Detroit. It’s unclear what other players are involved at this point.

The Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago and they haven’t been to the postseason since 1993, so they have every reason to go all-in. GM Alex Anthopoulos is surely feeling the heat. Toronto is seven games back of the Yankees in the AL East — they still have 13 head-to-head games remaining — but only two games back of the second wildcard spot. Their +100 run differential is the best in the AL and second best in MLB.

The Yankees reportedly pursued Price while remaining unwilling to part with their top prospects, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino specifically, meaning they had little chance to acquire the ace left-hander. I think they should have made their top prospects available, particularly Severino, but the Yankees disagreed. I’m just a guy with a blog. What do I know. Price sure would have looked nice in pinstripes though.

With Price, Scott Kazmir, and Johnny Cueto off the board, the best available pitchers are Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, and Ian Kennedy. Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma may or may not be available as well. The Yankees need pitching, it’s becoming more obvious with each passing game, so hopefully they reel someone in before the deadline tomorrow. Whoever it is, they won’t be as good as Price.

Update: Alford is not in the trade. The Tigers are getting three lefties: Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt. An equivalent Yankees package would be something like Severino, Bryan Mitchell, and healthy Ian Clarkin. Ballpark estimate, not exact.

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2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Thursday

Price. (Harry How/Getty)
Price. (Harry How/Getty)

We are now just one day away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have not yet made a move but I expect them to do something by 4pm ET tomorrow. They need pitching — I’m not sure how much more obvious it could be at this point — and a new second baseman sure would be cool too. Don’t be fooled by the six-game lead in the AL East, there are holes on the roster.

Late last night, Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal, taking arguably the best available pitcher off the board. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we learned the Tigers are making David Price and their other rental players available, which is significant because Price would look wonderful in pinstripes. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Talk about all of ’em in this open thread.

  • 2:50pm ET: Not only do the Yankees not want to trade top prospects, they are hesitant to trade guys like Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell as well. The sense is they will add a reliever to deepen the bullpen. Warren could then be a candidate to return to the rotation. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:47pm ET: The Mariners plan to keep impending free agent Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s a favorite of ownership and they could always re-sign him in the offseason. The Yankees had not been connected to Iwakuma but he seemed like a logical fit. (Masahiro Tanaka‘s teammate in Japan!) [Jeff Passan]
  • 2:23pm ET: The Yankees are “poised to strike” and are in on all the available arms. That … really doesn’t tell us anything new. The Yankees are typically a club that waits until the last minute to make trades, however. The Martin Prado and Stephen Drew deals were announced after the deadline last year.[Ken Rosenthal]
  • 2:01pm ET: The Yankees are on the “periphery” of the Yovani Gallardo race. He is very available and a bunch of teams are in the mix. Gallardo is still scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight. [Heyman]
  • 12:50pm ET: David Price is heading to the Blue Jays for a package of top prospects, including Daniel Norris and Anthony Alford. So scratch him off the list.
  • 12:06pm ET: The Blue Jays appear to be “closing in” on a trade for David Price according to multiple reports. Toronto hasn’t been to the postseason since 1993 and they acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago. The chips are firmly in the middle of the table.
  • 10:07am ET: The Yankees are considering among Mike Leake‘s most likely landing spots at this point. They’re also a candidate to acquire Jeff Samardzija should the surging White Sox decide to move him. Special assistant Jim Hendry drafted the righty when he was Cubs GM and Larry Rothschild was Samardzija’s pitching coach in Chicago for a few years. [Heyman]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees are one of four serious contenders for David Price, along with the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays. All four clubs are in talks with the Tigers. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees discussed Dustin Ackley with the Mariners. Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel came up but Seattle wanted more — I believe it was Flores or Gamel, not both — so talks stalled out. For whatever reason the Yankees have been after Ackley for years. [Mark Feinsand]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Holy Moly! Blue Jays reportedly acquire Troy Tulowitzki

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

Well this is a blockbuster. According to both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays have acquired Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies. No word on what Toronto is sending to Colorado, but I’m sure the package involves many top prospects. Wowza.

The Blue Jays already have a pretty good middle infield with Jose Reyes and Devon Travis, but Tulo is way better than both, so yeah. I wonder if Travis is in the package going to the Rockies with Reyes sliding over to second. He played second earlier in his career in deference to Kaz Matsui, remember.

Either way, the Blue Jays have emerged as the Yankees’ biggest threat in the AL East since the All-Star break, and they just got a whole lot better. The best offense in baseball got better, I should say. Toronto still needs pitching, but Tulowitzki is a major addition and will help a ton this year and in the future.

Update: Rosenthal says Reyes, not Travis, is in the package going to the Rockies. Unexpected! It’s Reyes and a bunch of minor league guys for Tulo. I wonder if the Rockies will flip Reyes somewhere else now, sorta like when the Marlins had Mike Piazza.

Yankeemetrics: May 4-6 (Blue Jays)

This is what an ace looks like. (Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports)
This is what an ace looks like. (Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chase is on
The situation was set up perfectly for another Yankees win in the series opener when they took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning against Toronto. Entering Monday, the Yankees:

• were 12-0 when leading after seven innings
• had allowed seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings combined (tied for fewest in AL)
• had one blown save (tied for fewest among teams with more than five save opportunities)

But the Yankees bullpen proved to be mortal on this night, giving up three runs and coughing up that one-run lead, handing the Blue Jays a 3-1 victory.

They wasted a gem by Chase Whitley, who threw seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks. His changeup was really nasty; he threw 14 of them and those pitches netted him five whiffs and six outs (including three strikeouts), with just one hit allowed.

R.A. Dickey dominated the Yankee lineup for eight innings with his knuckleball, allowing just one run and three hits despite not getting any strikeouts. The only other pitcher in the last 30 years with at least eight innings pitched and no strikeouts in a game against the Yankees was the Tigers’ Steve Sparks on June 19, 2001.

Ace Pineda
Another dominant performance from a starting pitcher, another win, ho hum. On Tuesday night the gem was delivered by the man that has rightfully earned that title of staff ace, Michael Pineda, who pitched perhaps his best game of the season.

The right-hander threw eight scoreless innings, allowed five hits and struck out six batters in leading the Yankees to a bounceback 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. Dating back to last year, he’s now 6-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last eight starts. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that he’s had incredible command of the strike zone during this undefeated run, with at least five strikeouts and no more than one walk in each of those eight games.

You know how many other pitchers have fashioned an eight-start streak like that – at least five strikeouts, one or fewer walks and no losses – over the last 100 seasons? Two. Curt Schilling in 2002 and Bret Saberhagen in 1994.

Jacoby Ellsbury had another all-around awesome game, with three hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored – the fourth time he’s reached each of those totals in a game with the Yankees. The only players in franchise history to have more games like that in their entire career with the team are Roberto Kelly (5) and Rickey Henderson (5). Yeah, Ellsbury has been in pinstripes for only two seasons.

“Ya know, Suzyn…”
There’s a popular saying among fans (and radio broadcasters) that “you can’t predict baseball.” But if there ever was one thing about baseball that you could predict, it was that the Yankees would win a game started by Mark Buehrle.

Entering the series finale, the 16-year veteran had made 21 career starts versus the Bronx Bombers and won exactly one of those. His 1-14 record was second-worst among any pitcher in the last 100 years that had made at least 15 starts vs. the Yankees. The lone win came on April 10, 2004. Since then, Buehrle had….

• lost 12 straight decisions against the Yankees, tied for the fourth-longest losing streak vs. the franchise by any pitcher in the last 100 years
• gone 17 consecutive starts without a win against the Yankees, the second-longest winless streak vs. the franchise by any pitcher in the last 100 years

So, of course, on Wednesday night in Toronto he held the Yankees to one run in five innings pitched and got the win. #Weirdbaseball

CC Sabathia took the loss and fell to 0-5 in six starts, becoming the first Yankee to lose his first five decisions of the season since Chien-Ming Wang in 2009. He also lost his first game in Toronto as a member of the Yankees (entered the game 4-0 in five starts). Sabathia’s unbeaten streak of five consecutive starts at the Rogers Centre was tied for the longest at the ballpark by any Yankee pitcher.

5/4 to 5/6 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are in Toronto for a three-game set starting tonight as they look to win their sixth consecutive series. They haven’t won six straight series since late-June/early-July 2011, when they won seven straight. Yeah, it’s been a while. It’s worth noting new turf was installed at Rogers Centre this offseason and everyone seems to hate it. Players have said it’s too soft and spongy, and it slows down batted balls significantly, enough that MLB is monitoring the new surface.

What Have The Blue Jays Done Lately?

The Blue Jays dropped a slugfest to the Indians yesterday afternoon (final score: 10-7) and split the four-game series in Cleveland. They’ve lost seven of their last ten games overall and are in the AL East cellar with a 12-14 record and a +6 run differential. The Yankees and Blue Jays played in Yankee Stadium in the very first series of the season, as you probably remember. Toronto won two of three.

Offense & Defense

The Blue Jays look quite a bit different than when he was saw them. SS Jose Reyes (rib) and C Dioner Navarro (hamstring) are both on the DL, UTIL Steve Tolleson has been designated for assignment, and OF Dalton Pompey was sent to Triple-A because he wasn’t hitting. They Jays are the highest scoring team in baseball, averaging 5.54 runs per game with a team 109 wRC+.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The middle of Toronto’s lineup is straight up terrifying even though OF Jose Bautista (128 wRC+) is having some BABIP issues (.213) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (75 wRC+) has yet to really get going. Those two plus 3B Josh Donaldson (155 wRC+) are as good as any three hitters in any other lineup in the baseball, at least on paper. Add in surprising rookie 2B Devon Travis (180 wRC+) and you’ve got four really scary right-handed hitters atop the lineup.

Bautista is nursing a throwing shoulder issue and has been limited to DH duty for about a week now. OF Ezequiel Carrera (244 wRC+ in very limited time) and 3B/OF Danny Valencia (155 wRC+) have been platooning in his place. OF Kevin Pillar (97 wRC+) and OF Michael Saunders (70 wRC+) are the other two regular outfielders. C Russell Martin (138 wRC+) is the everyday catcher and OF Ryan Goins (75 wRC+) and UTIL Jonathan Diaz (-38 RC+ in very limited time) have been platooning at short with Reyes out. C Josh Thole and 1B Justin Smoak are also on the bench.

The Blue Jays are a sound defensive team with elite defenders at third base (Donaldson) and behind the plate (Martin). Pillar has been excellent this year as well, first in left and now in center with Pompey demoted. Saunders and Carrera are above-average glovemen while Valencia looks very much like a third baseman playing the outfield. Travis is adequate at second and the Goins/Diaz tandem is good at short. Encarnacion’s not much of a defender at first. He’s in the lineup for his bat.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Chase Whitley (Career vs. TOR) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (Career vs. NYY)
Dickey, 40, is off to a rough start this season, with a 5.23 ERA (5.50 FIP) in five starts and 31 innings. His strikeout (14.9%), ground ball (43.8%), and home run (1.45 HR/9) rates are all below average, and Dickey’s walk rate has climbed from 5.8% in 2012 to 7.5% in 2013 to 8.1% in 2014% to 9.7% in 2015. Lefties (.384 wOBA) have hit him a lot harder than righties (.304 wOBA) in the early going. Dickey’s a knuckleballer, you know that, and these days it butterflies in around 75 mph. He throws the knuckler roughly 85% of the time, and the other 15% are show-me low-80s fastballs. The Yankees faced Dickey earlier this year and he held them to one run in 6.1 innings.

Tuesday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (Career vs. NYY)
Late last week rookie left-hander Daniel Norris was sent back to Triple-A after struggling to throw strikes (11.7 BB%), keep the ball on the ground (30.0 GB%), and pitch deep into games (4.2 innings per start). The 31-year-old Estrada is taking his spot in the rotation after pitching to a 0.84 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 10.2 long relief innings. Estrada’s been a starter before — he made 62 starts for the Brewers from 2012-14 — so this won’t be knew to him. Last season he managed to lead MLB with 29 home runs allowed in only 150.2 innings. Estrada’s always been homer and fly ball prone with average strikeout and walk rates. He’s a three-pitch pitcher, using upper-80s fastballs to set up upper-70s changeups and curveballs. The changeup is his go-to secondary pitch. Estrada did not pitch during the series at Yankee Stadium earlier this year.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. TOR) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (Career vs. NYY)
Man, Buehrle is off to a terrible start this year. He’s got a 6.75 ERA (5.89 FIP) and has allowed 47 hits (!) in 28 innings. Egads. No other pitcher who has yet to throw 30 innings has allowed even 40 hits this year. Buehrle’s strikeout rate (8.3%) is at an all-time low, his homer rate (1.93 HR/9) an all-time high, and both his walk (5.3%) and grounder (42.7%) numbers are in line with his career norms. Lefties (.498 wOBA) have crushed him, but it’s a small sample. Righties (.412 wOBA) have hit him really hard too. Buehrle sits in the low-80s with his fastball, has for a few years now, and throws both two and four-seamers in addition to an upper-70s cutter. An upper-70s changeup is his top secondary pitch and either he is throwing the pitch more than ever (~33%), or PitchFX is misclassifying some fastballs as changeups. That’s never good. The Yankees didn’t face Buehrle in the first series of the year.

Bullpen Status
Despite that slugfest with the Indians yesterday, manager John Gibbons didn’t really tax his bullpen too much. RHP Scott Copeland (5.14 FIP) threw two innings and RHP Miguel Castro (4.76 FIP) needed 33 pitches to get four outs, and that’s about it. Ex-Yankees LHP Jeff Francis (3.14 FIP) got one out as well. No one on the staff has pitched in both of the last two games.

LHP Brett Cecil (6.14 FIP) has resumed closing and his primary setup men are RHP Roberto Osuna (1.76 FIP) and LHP Aaron Loup (4.69 FIP). Castro and Osuna are the two youngest players in MLB right now — they’re both only 20. RHP Liam Hendriks (1.54 FIP) is the last man in the bullpen. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for an update on New York’s bullpen and then head over to Andrew Stoeten’s site for everything you need to know about the Blue Jays.

Yankeemetrics: April 6-9 (Blue Jays)

First win of the season! (Photo credit: NY Daily News)
First win of the season! (Photo credit: NY Daily News)

[For those of you new to these Yankeemetrics posts, what I try to do is recap each game in the series using interesting, fun and sometimes quirky statistical notes. Hope you enjoy it.]

Marathon, not a sprint
Opening Day did not go exactly as planned, to put it mildly. The Yankees lost 6-1 to the Blue Jay on Monday afternoon, extending their streak of Opening Day losses to four. That’s the longest such streak for the franchise since 1982-85. The Elias Sports Bureau also notes that for the first time in team history, the Yankees have lost three straight season openers by a margin of at least three runs.

The Yankees also failed to score more than two runs for the third Opening Day in a row, just the third time the Bronx Bombers have done that in the last 100 years. The other seasons were in 1978-80 and 1935-37.

Masahiro Tanaka, who was the youngest righty to start on Opening Day for Yankees since Doc Medich in 1975, allowed five runs in four innings and made every Yankee beat writer hit the panic button. It was the shortest Opening Day start by any Yankee since Phil Niekro in 1985 vs. Red Sox.

While a ton of the focus was on Tanaka’s poor outing, the Yankee bats certainly didn’t help him out with just one run on three hits. The last time the Yankees scored no more than one run and had three or fewer hits in the season’s first game was 1968 (yes, the so-called Year of the Pitcher).

So you’re saying there’s a chance…
Phew. The Yankees got back to .500 with a 4-3 win on Wednesday, avoiding what would have been a franchise-record fourth straight 0-2 start. Down 3-1 entering the eighth frame, the Yankees pulled off what has to be one of the more improbable rallies in recent memory.

They tied the score when Brian McCann was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The last time the Yankees had a game-tying HBP after the seventh inning was when Reggie Jackson was plunked in 1978 against the Brewers.

Chase Headley had the game-winning RBI in the next at-bat when his ground ball up the middle bounced off Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil and squirted into the outfield. It was Headley’s third go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later with the team, the most such hits by any Yankee since he arrived in the Bronx on July 22 last year.

Michael Pineda may not have made his case to be the Yankees ace, but he had strong performance in his 2015 debut (ND, 6 IP, 2 R, 6 K, 1 BB). This was the fifth time in his Yankee career he’s given up two runs or fewer in at least six innings pitched without getting the win –- and three of those games have now come vs. Toronto.

Second to none
CC Sabathia‘s first regular season start in nearly a year was ruined by a disaster second inning when he gave up four runs on five singles; he allowed just three hits and one run in the other 4 2/3 innings he pitched. Of the 17 outs he recorded in the game, 16 were either by strikeout (8) or groundout (8). That’s pretty darn good…except for the five runs he allowed on the night. Oops.

So the Yankees ended up losing the rubber game, 6-3, and Sabathia lost his fourth straight home start, his longest such losing streak in pinstripes. The only Yankee left-handers to lose more than four starts in a row at Yankee Stadium are Whitey Ford (5, 1965-66) and Sam McDowell (6, 1973-74).

Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira tried to rally the Yankees when they hit homers in the sixth inning to make it 5-3. For A-Rod, it was his 57th homer vs. Toronto, the most by any player against the Blue Jays franchise. Of course it was also his 655th career home run, five away from tying Willie Mays and earning a cool $6 million bonus.

4/6 to 4/9 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The 2015 season is finally upon us. The Yankees open the new season at home at Yankee Stadium this afternoon against the Blue Jays. These two clubs were separated by one game in the standings last season and then had busy offseasons — the Yankees made a series of smaller moves while the Jays made two really big moves. Now they’re both in that cluster of mediocrity vying for the AL East title, so head-to-head meetings are important. New York and Toronto open a four-day, three-game series this afternoon.

What Have The Blue Jays Done Lately?

Well, nothing important since this is the first series of the year. I’m not even going to bother to look up Toronto’s record during Grapefruit League play because it’s so meaningless. Way too many innings and at-bats go to players who won’t sniff the MLB roster this summer. If you’re curious, the projecting standings at FanGraphs have these two clubs finishing with identical 82-80 records. So the season has been decided. Fast forward to 2016!

Offense & Defense

The Blue Jays figure to be scary good offensively thanks to the 3-4-5 combination of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson. There is no 3-4-5 combo in the game that I’d rather have over that group right now. Here’s a quick run down of Toronto’s started lineup with their 2014 stats and 2015 ZiPS projections, just for reference:

2014 Performance 2015 ZiPS Projection
SS Jose Reyes .287/.328/.398 (102 wRC+), 30 SB .285/.333/.412 (107 wRC+)
C Russell Martin .290/.402/.430 (140 wRC+), 11 HR .237/.337/.407 (110 wRC+)
RF Jose Bautista .286/.403/.524 (159 wRC+), 35 HR .267/.384/.515 (151 wRC+)
1B Edwin Encarnacion .268/.354/.547 (150 wRC+), 34 HR .270/.358/.514 (142 wRC+)
3B Josh Donaldson .255/.342/.456 (129 wRC+), 29 HR .265/.338/.468 (125 wRC+)
DH Dioner Navarro .274/.317/.395 (98 wRC+), 12 HR .266/.314/.395 (96 wRC+)
LF Kevin Pillar .323/.359/.509 (136 wRC+) in AAA .266/.297/.398 (91 wRC+)
2B Devon Travis .298/.358/.460 (126 wRC+) in AA .244/.290/.392 (85 wRC+)
CF Dalton Pompey .309/.387/.456 (140 wRC+) in MiLB .239/.298/.348 (81 wRC+)

Like I said, the 3-4-5 guys are terrifying and the top five of the lineup in general is very dangerous even considering the likelihood Martin won’t be a .400+ OBP guy again. The bottom third of the lineup is … untested. Travis, who is skipping right over Triple-A following a strong spring, and Pompey are being thrown into the fire as rookies at up-the-middle positions. Pillar is filling in for OF Michael Saunders, who is working his way back from a spring knee injury.

Donaldson. (Presswire)
Donaldson. (Presswire)

The Jays are carrying eight relievers, so they only have three players on the bench: 1B Justin Smoak, UTIL Steve Tolleson, and UTIL Danny Valencia. Navarro is the backup catcher and I’m sure Smoak will see plenty of at-bats at DH (or first base with Encarnacion at DH) on the days Martin sits. It’s not the most usable bench in the world. Manager John Gibbons is going to ride or die with his nine starters. Those are the guys who will lead the Blue Jays.

Defensively, Toronto upgraded at third base and behind the plate with Donaldson and Martin, moreso by going from Navarro to Martin. Reyes remains a good defender and Travis was described as a “steady” defender capable of “making the routine play” at second base by Baseball America (subs. req’d) this winter., when they ranked him as the Tigers’ top prospect. The Jays got him from Detroit straight up for Anthony Gose.

Pompey and Bautista are above-average in center and right — Bautista’s defensive value comes more from his rocket arm than his range — and Pillar is sound in left. All told, this is a sneaky good defensive club. Encarnacion at first base is the only unquestionably below-average gloveman. And if you fully buy into the numbers, going from Navarro to Martin at catcher is a multi-win upgrade on pitch-framing alone.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (Career vs. NYY)
Hutchison will be Toronto’s youngest Opening Day starter since Todd Stottlemyre got the ball on Opening Day in 1990. (Tanaka, by the way, will be New York’s youngest Opening Starter since Andy Pettitte in 1998). The 24-year-old Hutchison had a 4.48 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 32 starts and 184.2 innings last season with nice strikeout (23.4 K%) and walk (7.6 BB%) rates. He didn’t get many ground balls (36.1%) and was a bit homer prone (1.12 HR/9). ZiPS sees a slight step back (4.22 ERA and 4.17 FIP), for what it’s worth. Hutchison is a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s heater to set up mid-80s sliders and changeups. He uses the slider twice as often as the changeup. The Yankees saw a whole bunch of Hutchison last season — he threw 31 innings across six starts in 2014 and had a 5.17 ERA.

It's a fingertip ball, not a knuckleball. (Presswire)
It’s a fingertip ball, not a knuckleball. (Presswire)

Wednesday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. TOR) vs. RHP. R.A. Dickey (Career vs. NYY)
It’s not surprising Dickey has failed to repeat his out of nowhere 2012 Cy Young Award winning season, though he has settled in a slightly better than average innings eater. Last season he put up a 3.71 ERA (4.32 FIP) with an 18.9 K% and an 8.1 BB% in 34 starts and 215.2 innings. His ground ball rate was basically average (42.0%) and his home run rate (1.09 HR/9) a bit worse than average. ZiPS sees more of the same from the 40-year-old in 2015 (4.04 ERA and 4.43 FIP). Dickey is still a knuckleballer, but unlike when he used two distinct knuckleballs with the Mets, he has just one basic mid-70s floater at this point. He throws the knuckler 85% of the time, give or take. The other 15% is low-80s show-me fastballs and low-70s changeups. The Yankees saw Dickey just twice last year, scoring two runs in a dozen innings. And that means nothing for Wednesday.

Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. TOR) vs. LHP Daniel Norris (Career vs. NYY)
Norris, 21, had one of the best seasons in all of minor league baseball a year ago, pitching to a 2.53 ERA (2.57 FIP) with 32.5 K% and 8.6 BB% in 124.2 innings while climbing from High-A to Triple-A before making his big league debut as a September call-up. His 11.77 K/9 was the very best out of the 551 minor league pitchers to throw 100 innings in 2014, and Baseball America ranked him as the sixth best pitching prospect in baseball (18th best prospect overall) coming into the spring. Norris was used mostly as a reliever with the Jays in September (5.40 ERA and 6.13 FIP in 6.2 innings) but will be a starter this year. ZiPS thinks he’ll be serviceable but not dominant (4.35 ERA and 4.46 FIP). Norris has a very deep repertoire, sitting in the low-90s and touching 97 with his fastball while throwing three average or better offspeed pitches: low-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and low-70s curveball. The slider is his best strikeout pitch, but, on his very best days, Norris brings three swing-and-miss secondary pitches out to he mound. The eccentric southpaw (read this) did throw an inning against the Yankees last September, when this happened:

Bullpen Status
Like I said earlier, the Blue Jays are going into the season with an eight-man bullpen partly because they have two rookie starters (Norris and Aaron Sanchez) and want some extra arms in case things go south in April. Long-time end-game reliever Casey Janssen was allowed to leave as a free agent and the bespectacled southpaw Brett Cecil will be the team’s new closer. Two of those eight relievers are rookies with zero MLB experience. Here’s the ‘pen:

2014 Performance 2015 ZiPS Projection
RHP Miguel Castro 2.84 (3.80 FIP), 25.2 K%, 9.2 BB% in MiLB N/A
LHP Brett Cecil 2.70 ERA (2.34 FIP), 32.5 K%, 11.5 BB% 3.48 ERA (3.41 FIP), 27.1 K%, 9.7 BB%
RHP Marco Estrada 4.36 ERA (4.88 FIP), 20.4 K%, 7.1 BB% 4.44 ERA (4.57 FIP), 21.6 K%, 6.3 BB%
RHP Liam Hendriks 5.23 ERA (3.84 FIP), 16.1 K%, 4.9 BB% 4.69 ERA (4.47 FIP), 16.0 K%, 4.9 BB%
LHP Colt Hynes 3.65 ERA (3.99 FIP), 21.0 K%, 4.4 BB% in AAA 3.98 ERA (3.85 FIP), 21.1 K%, 4.9 BB%
LHP Aaron Loup 3.15 ERA (3.83 FIP), 19.8 K%, 10.6 BB% 3.62 ERA (3.93 FIP), 19.4 K%, 8.1 BB%
RHP Roberto Osuna 7.39 ERA (4.05 FIP), 28.5 K%, 7.9 BB% in MiLB N/A
RHP Todd Redmond 3.24 ERA (3.56 FIP), 19.1 K%, 8.6 BB% 3.91 ERA (3.75 FIP), 19.4 K%, 8.1 BB%

Castro and Osuna spend last year at multiple levels of Single-A and are both skipping over Double-A and Triple-A. They made the team thanks to great Spring Training performances, which, uh, might not be the best way to make roster decisions, but to each his own. Osuna turned 20 in February and will probably be the youngest player in MLB this season. ZiPS didn’t even bother to spit out a projection for either guy this offseason because they weren’t expected to sniff the big league level.

Cecil’s going to close and Loup will face a bunch of lefties in setup situations, as he has been for several years now. Other than that, I’m not really sure how Gibbons will use his relievers. Will he throw Castro and Osuna to the wolves right away and give them high-leverage work? Or will Redmond go from multi-inning middle reliever last year to setup man this year? We’ll find out soon enough. For the best Jays coverage, head over to Andrew Stoeten’s site.