It's obviously not over before it starts. I mean, Stroman is one guy. Sure, he's probably the best pitcher on the team, but his upside for the year is, what, 4 WAR? 5? Yeah, those are all important wins, given the Jays' location on the win curve. The difference between one Stroman and no Stromans is probably more starts to Aaron Sanchez or Dan Norris or Marco Estrada... whichever of those guys didn't get the 5th starter's job. Maybe some Johan Santana in there, I guess. Still, Steamer sees 3.4 WAR that the Jays are going to need to go and find for 2015 just to get back to where they were yesterday.
Obviously the problem there is that there aren't free agents available in mid-March. Yeah, James Shields would have been fucking golden, even before this happened, but there's probably no money there, and Stroman getting hurt in, say, December, probably wouldn't have changed that. Might have seen a Chris Young signing or something minor like that, but the real issue here isn't money; teams are pretty well set and ready to go in to the early part of the season with what they have in-house.
If that's the case, then the Jays are kind of locked in to doing that themselves. Everybody just moves up a spot on the chart, more or less. Dickey is now the obvious opening day starter, if he wasn't before, and Daniel Norris is probably even more of a lock to get a rotation spot unless he throws up all over himself and loses it over the rest of the spring. Aaron Sanchez was getting stretched out (and will continue to do so) in order to give him a chance to win a spot, but I think a healthy Stroman and all other things being equal would have put him in the bullpen. Not so certain now.
The likely rotation at this point, in no certain order, has Dickey and Buerhle as the horses, Hutchison and Norris as the young guns, and probably Sanchez getting every chance to fail rounding things out. If he does fail, Marco Estrada is there, able to 2012-2013 Carlos Villanueva.
The real problem is that both Sanchez and Estrada were tentatively set to be bullpen pieces in a pen that wasn't exactly strong before the Stroman injury. Now, we're incredibly likely to see one of those guys added to the rotation. Worse yet, this assumes that Norris can hack it as a starter*, which is probably a bit aggressive to do when you consider that Norris is 21, had offseason surgery, and has pitched a total of 6.2 MLB innings, and 22.2 AAA innings.
*-- I don't think he goes to the bullpen if he doesn't get a rotation spot. No real need to sit him in the pen as the third lefty, at 21, when he could easily be starting in AAA. Putting him in the pen runs the risk of him not being stretched out when they need someone to come up. The lack of rotation depth was a sore spot before, now it's a killer.
Everything might be great. Norris might come in and kick ass. Sanchez might win a job and perform admirably too. Fuck, Johan Santana might light it up and force the team to make a choice! Russell Martin is behind the plate, after all. If that's the case, this doesn't really matter a whole lot. But at the end of the day, we're talking about subtracting from a weakness to patch a hole.
Cole Hamels isn't fucking happening, so we can stop dreaming there. But if Sanchez or Estrada is getting "taken", then this might be more of a bullpen issue than anything, and that's going to need a quick patch, stat.
It's pretty clear that we, as Jays fans, aren't allowed to have nice things. 21 years of no playoffs. Nobody wants to sign. Vernon Wells. Alex Rios. Mike Sirotka. Joey Hamilton.
But then 2013! Finally make a run at it! Nah, Dickey puts up a 4.21 ERA after AA ships both d'Arnaud and Syndergaard. Josh Johnson falls off the face of the planet. Jose Reyes misses 70 games. Starts from Ramon Ortiz.
But wait, most of the good parts of the team are still under contract. Let's try again! And hey! It's working! Leading the division by a lot! Nah, let's collapse and not really come close down the stretch, powered by nobody coming in at the deadline. Baltimore needs the rub just as bad, you guys go ahead and win the division going away.
Clearly, someone has to sell their soul to the devil, and it may as well be AA since his job is probably on the line this season.
I think it's time to trade for Jonathan Papelbon. Rafael Soriano is still out there too. Sure, he doesn't exactly project to come out smelling like roses, but neither did, say, Pat Neshek last year, and at least Soriano's done it before. It's another piece. It's someone. A warm body, if you will. And after today, there's bound to be one fewer in the bullpen.