New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2016 Report, Part 2: Starting Pitchers

Jeremy Gabryszwski
Jeremy Gabryszwski

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats had just two starters get through the whole season in the rotation, but they didn’t use that many men to take the mound at the start of the game. As a whole, the starting staff did not perform at a level that the club would like to see but with a couple of late-season additions, things generally settled down towards the end of the year.

 

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Jeremy Gabryszwski, a 6-foot-4 horse of a pitcher, led the New Hampshire Fisher Cats starting staff in innings and starts with 146 1/3 and 28 respectively.  Gaby started out his season strongly, posting solid numbers in his first month in Double-A (3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) but after the mid-way point, he struggled down the stretch with two months of ERAs over 7.50 and WHIPs over 2.00 while his walk totals bloated. Overall, Gabryszwski’s 5.23 ERA (but 4.53 FIP) and 1.48 WHIP were well below average and his 14.9% strikeout rate was a little lower than his 2015 figure with Dunedin. Gaby’s 7.6% walk rate was still good but that figure is a career worst for him. Gabryszwski will likely return to New Hampshire in 2017, the final year of his original contract. Still only 23, Gaby could see Buffalo but will need to figure out how to maintain his success throughout a complete season at the Double-A level.

 

 

Shane Dawson
Shane Dawson

Canadian lefty Shane Dawson came in second on the Fisher Cats, both in innings and starts but was more effective overall for the Jays’ Double-A squad. Dawson was 10-4 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. That WHIP was likely high due to the fact that he walked 12.2% of batters while striking out 16.2%. With only a five starts under his belt in Dunedin before he started the year in New Hampshire, Dawson acquitted himself very well in his Age-22 season, despite seeing regression in his numbers across the board from his performances at lower levels. Dawson’s ability to stay healthy throughout the season and to keep his team in the game were certainly valuable to the Fisher Cats. I can’t see him jumping to Buffalo just yet, so expect him to remain in the Northeast with New Hampshire in 2017.

 

25-year-old Luis Santos spent most of his season in Double-A New Hampshire despite starting the season with two short (two-inning) appearances in Dunedin. Santos logged a 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with New Hampshire, starting 15 of his 17 games, walking only 6.3% of batters and striking out 21.4%. Still, at the end of July, after giving up 13 runs in a combined 11 innings in his last three appearances, Santos was sent back to Dunedin where he finished out the year with some up (7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K) and down (3 1/3 IP, 8 R, 6 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 4 K) outings. Santos will probably get another shot at Double-A next year if the Jays renew his contract for 2017.

 

John Anderson
John Anderson

John Anderson, 27, exhibited struggles when pitching this season, trying to adapt to some of the teachings of Vince Horsman. In 90 1/3 innings with the Fisher Cats, Anderson, whose fastball has reached 95 mph in the past, had a 5.08 ERA along with a 1.65 WHIP, a 19.4% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. It’s not all bad for Johnny Anderson. His rate stats were roughly in line with what he did in New Hampshire last year, including a much higher strikeout rate, and his 3.99 FIP was actually lower than his 4.03 FIP in 2015. This year, the lefty got more of a chance to show what he could do in a call up to Buffalo but struggled, allowing 19 runs on 39 hits and 11 walks in 24 1/3 innings for a 7.03 ERA and 2.05 FIP while striking out only 10.7% and walking 9.0%.

 

32-year-old veteran Jason Berken signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays this offseason and spent most of his season with the Double-A Fisher Cats. Berken threw 79 2/3 innings both as a starter and as a reliever in New Hampshire and had a 4.41 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9% walk rate and 13.7% strikeout rate. In 26 innings in Buffalo, Berken had a 4.50 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 14.3% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate.

 

Taylor Cole
Taylor Cole

Taylor Cole got his Age-26 season under way late thanks to what was reported to me as impingement in his shoulder. After three rehab starts in Dunedin in the first half of June, Cole was promoted back to New Hampshire where he was one of the better starters on the staff for the last half of the season, throwing 61 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 20.6% strikeout rate and 6.6% walk rate. There are several things to like about what Cole was able to do this year, particularly the higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate than he’s ever been able to put up in parts of three seasons. Cole’s real nemesis is the home run and he kept his numbers below one HR per nine innings but his BABIP against was fairly high at .352. with better luck, he could very well put up more attractive numbers overall. Entering his Age-27 season, Cole will likely return to New Hampshire but, if he starts out well, could be in Buffalo before mid-season.

 

For some more minor league pitching depth, the Blue Jays signed Wilmer Font (who pitched for parts of two seasons in the majors) after seeing him excel in the independent Can-Am League. Font reported to Buffalo in early June but after four appearances with a 4.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and eight strikeouts and five walks in 19 1/3 innings, he was sent down to New Hampshire where he started eight games. Totaling 46 2/3 innings for the Fisher Cats, Font had a 3.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, walking just 3.8% of batters and striking out 25.5%. Font may very well become a free agent but could certainly be a solid minor league contributor to the Jays’ organization next year.

 

26-year-old John Straka was another Blue Jays’ signing out of the independent leagues. With three seasons in the American Association, Straka joined the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Double-A, his highest level in affiliated baseball, in mid-August. Straka made five appearances with four starts and threw 25 innings with a 4.68 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out 21.4% and walking 7.8%. Generally, minor league free agent contracts come with an option for a second year and I can certainly see the Jays picking up the option on Straka for 2017.

 

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