Norris Proving Himself Worthy of a Starter’s Role

Coming into spring training, Daniel Norris was a fringe starter just looking to get in some reps against big-leaguers before his trip back to AAA Buffalo.  But after Marcus Stroman tore his knee and was declared out for the season, Norris became the fifth man in the Blue Jays’ rotation simply by default.

However, after another solid outing today, it’s good to see that the 21-year-old isn’t taking his position lightly.  Going into today’s action against the Orioles, Norris had pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on 10 hits.  He improved on those numbers much more so this afternoon.

The O’s were no match for the rangy lefty as he tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits.  Best of all, he struck out seven without issuing a walk.  Norris left a few change-ups out over the plate but not much damage came from them as batters were off balance, trying to keep up with his fastball that was in the upper 90s all afternoon, including one that registered a 100 on the radar gun.

Last year at this time, Norris was simply a kid trying to make his mark in minor-league camp.  He shot up from A-ball to AA after 66 innings with 76 K’s and a 1.23 ERA — all without allowing a home run.  He spent the middle of the summer in AA New Hampshire and then was promoted to Buffalo.  Norris threw 22 2/3 innings with the Bisons, posting a 3.18 ERA while striking out 38.

It was heart-breaking to see Stroman in crutches last week, knowing that he had a chance to be one of the Blue Birds’ best hurlers.  But with the emergence of 20-year-olds Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna, the bullpen may be in better shape than most thought.  The hole left by Aaron Sanchez at the back end of the pen, following his promotion to starter, will be filled by Brett Cecil.  Sanchez will have the chance to prove himself as a reliable big league starter as well.

Many people believe that this is the final year of Alex Anthopoulos’ “three-year plan”.  Before training camp it certainly appeared that way.  But with a legitimate depth of young arms coming up, Blue Jays fans may have the opportunity to see some winning ball for more years than they expected.


Rodney Hiemstra



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