One of the biggest question marks going into this season is how the starting rotation is going to shape up. We know that Casey Janssen will likely hold down the 4th spot, but who will be the 5th and final starting pitcher for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays? Competition will be tough, with many pitchers hoping to make the squad. Matt Clement, Mike Maroth, David Purcey and Ricky Romero are among some of the names being tossed around as possible suitors.
But out of all the names, I think there is one dark horse candidate that will surprise everyone. This is my official endorsement for Scott Richmond as the fifth starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, and here are my reasons why.
1.) He already has the experience
Although Scott might only have 5 major league starts under his belt, that's five more than Ricky Romero or Brett Cecil. I realize that Matt Clement has pitched in the majors for 9 years, but he hasn't had a big league start in over 2 years. That's a really long time to be away from the big show. Mike Maroth is coming off of shoulder surgery, and has a career ERA of 5.02. Scott Richmond is the freshest and has had the most recent experience as a starting pitcher.
2.) Brett Cecil probably isn't ready yet
I'm not saying that Cecil isn't going to be next ace of the Blue Jays, I just think that he's not ready to be thrown into the fire just yet. We're all waiting for Cecil to be the next David Price, but J.P. Ricciardi has said on numerous occasions that he doesn't want to push some of the younger players too fast. This would give Scott Richmond the leg up on Brett Cecil.
3.) The World Baseball Classic will be Richmond's coming-out party
Rich Harden is out and Jeff Francis is out, so the weight of Team Canada's pitching staff will be on Scott Richmond's shoulders. I am hoping that Scott does really well at the World Baseball Classic, and performing well will definitely give him an advantage over the other candidates vying for the final spot in the Jays rotation.
4.) He's Canadian
Since the Blue Jays are "Canada's baseball team", there is an unwritten rule that there has to be a token Canadian on the team. With the departure of Matt Stairs, the Blue Jays are lacking in Canadian Content (Cancon for you media folks). Scott Richmond would probably fill those shoes very well. Although he might not be into hockey, I'm sure Scott could pick up the slack by playing some Roch Voisine and Rush in the Blue Jays clubhouse.