You read the title. You’ve heard the news. Joe Biagini, the Rule Five draft pick from a year ago who took the Toronto bullpen by storm (topical weather joke!) in 2016 will be starting for the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Joe Biagini will start for #BlueJays Sunday per manager John Gibbons
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) May 5, 2017
Biagini, 26, has been off to another dominant start in the bullpen this season, showing increased command and a higher affinity for striking batters out. This has resulted in an increase of his K-BB% by over five percentage points over 2016. In February, Matt Gwin wrote a piece explaining why Biagini is a great fit as a starter, and it boils down to just having a ton of pitches that he can use to get through an opponent’s lineup multiple times in a game. Biagini hasn’t started games in the regular season since he was in AA in 2015 with the Giants organization, but he did so pretty successfully with a 2.42 ERA in over 130 innings. It’s unclear how his velocity will be impacted when he has to pace himself, but his broad repertoire should help him mitigate any drop-offs.
With Mat Latos being designated for assignment earlier in the day, J.A. Happ still “a ways off” according to John Gibbons on Wednesday, and Aaron Sanchez’s return now being slowed down, the Blue Jays were in need of two starters in their current rotation. To solve the issue, the Blue Jays will be going with Biagini on Sunday, while Marcus Stroman, originally scheduled for Tuesday, will move up to pitch on normal rest on Monday. That means the Blue Jays still need a starter for Tuesday’s game. It appears as if it will likely be Mike Bolsinger, as he was scratched from his start in Buffalo tonight and threw a 90 pitch bullpen last night. That puts him in line to start next week.
The Blue Jays pitching staff is in shambles because they were not prepared to deal with so many injuries at once. Because of that, the bullpen has been overtaxed and has struggled. No bullpen, no matter how good, will be able to give you five or six brilliant innings night in and night out, so moving Biagini to the rotation is being done in hopes of stabilizing another rotation spot. Although Gibby is only hoping for four innings in Sunday’s start out of Biagini, the hope here is building him up into a successful starter who can give the bullpen a rest instead of having to come in and put out fires started by Mat Latos.
The Blue Jays will need some good luck as the season gets closer and closer to slipping away and hopefully Biagini will be able to grant their wishes with this move.
That sentence wasn’t as bad as watching Mat Latos pitch, so I don’t apologize.
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