Back in spring training, Blue Jays general manager
"We talked about how you need pitchers who can get strikeouts and strikes in the strike zone," Anthopoulos said. "All the lineups are really selective and will make you come into the zone. That puts a premium on the ability to get strikes in the strike zone."
Anthopoulos' blueprint was on display Sunday, when Toronto's
"He reminded us a little of
Morrow leads all major league qualifiers in strikeouts per nine innings (10.67). His start Sunday served notice that the Jays, having shed veterans
Indeed, the American League East race goes through Toronto, a franchise that hasn't played a playoff game since
"It's only two series so far," Anthopoulos said, referring to series wins in New York and at home against Tampa Bay. "But this is my seventh year with Toronto and I haven't seen the city this excited about what the organization is doing and how this team in playing. With young players you can dream on them.
"With young pitching you still don't know. They have the ability to do what Brandon did and they also are getting their feet wet in the big leagues. There's volatility there."
The Jays feature a rotation that includes
Anthopoulos said he considered the Rays, with a rotation that is aggressive with fastballs, as "the standard-bearers" of how to build an AL East-worthy pitching staff. "With a collection of young starting pitchers with stuff and a veteran bullpen you can do some damage," he said.
The Jays' blueprint goes beyond collecting young starters with swing-and-miss stuff. When the front office and scouts gathered in their war room for the draft last June, Anthopoulos talked to them about the teams GM
(The Jays used each of their first five picks -- among the top 61 picks overall -- on pitchers. And they are big pitchers: 6-6, 220-pound right-hander
Anthopoulos has emphasized not only drafting such athletic players, but also acquiring them from other organizations, such as
When the Toronto scouts scoured the Philadelphia system last summer in preparation for a possible Halladay trade, "Gose was not really on our radar," Anthopoulos said. "But every scout we sent out there came back raving about Anthony Gose."
Anthopoulos said he tried to trade for Gose last winter in the Halladay deal, tried again in spring training and again early in the season. It wasn't until he cut a side deal with Houston GM
"We looked at the free agent classes for the next couple of years and there was something like only three or four center fielders but first-base/DH types there were about 20," Anthopoulos said. "Those guys don't become available."
In his 10 months on the job, Anthopoulos already has put his imprint on the organization. He still has work left to emulate the Rays in order to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox for a playoff spot. But for now he has built a team that has the power, on the mound and at the plate, to be the game's biggest spoiler down the stretch.