Could the likes of a David Paulino be a viable starting rotation option for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019?
If the season were to begin tomorrow the Toronto Blue Jays rotation would currently consist of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley and insert name here for the fifth and final spot. It would appear that Thomas Pannone or Sam Gaviglio would have a leg up on the competition, however, could David Paulino force his way into the conversation with a strong spring.
The Blue Jays acquired Paulino along with Hector Perez and Ken Giles from the Houston Astros in the Roberto Osuna swap. The highly touted Paulino became expendable after his development was delayed due to an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance coupled with surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow. At the time of his suspension, Paulino was ranked the 44th prospect in baseball and third organizationally by MLB Pipeline.
Paulino showed a glimpse of his potential as a September call-up for the Jays. Although he pitched out of the bullpen the 24-year old was dominant in 7 relief appearances spanning 6.2 innings. Paulino posted a 1.35 earned average while fanning six, his only blunder was a solo homer off the bat of Didi Gregorius.
The former Astro sports a career 5.48 earned run average in 16 career MLB games that include seven starts for Houston. The 6’7″ right-hander consistently sits in the mid to high 90’s with his fastball with a plus curveball and slider in his repertoire. Paulino still projects as a middle of the rotation starter if he can remain healthy.
The Jays are desperately lacking starting pitching depth at the major league level so the opportunity is there for the taking for Paulino. Nobody would have ever predicted Sam Gaviglio would rank second among Jays starters with 24 starts last season.
If Paulino impresses his new skipper in Dunedin, who knows he may just break camp with the big club.