Blue Jays 2023 Dark Horse Candidate: Jimmy Robbins

Finally back to full health in 2022, Jimmy Robbins successfully navigated three levels.

Jimmy Robbins was selected in the 20th round of the 2019 Draft, signing for $125K. He made his professional debut on June 28th with two strikeouts over two scoreless innings. In 7 games between the Gulf Coast League and Bluefield, the lefty went 0-2 with a 2.84ERA and 1.32WHIP.

Covid cost Robbins the entire 2020 season and Tommy John cost him the 2021 season. The same elbow that cost him the 2018 season. That season was lost to a nerve issue (full article).

Healthy in 2022

The 6-foot-3 southpaw from Orlando, FL., worked his way back onto the mound on April 22nd as a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays. He was used in a multi-inning capacity, pitching between 3 and 4 innings in relief during his time with the D-Jays. Robbins made one start before leaving Dunedin on June 4th. He threw 3.2 innings and allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 6 batters.

On June 11th, Robbins joined the Canadians, throwing 2.1 perfect innings in relief with 4K. Despite struggling with his control in his next appearance, a 3.0IP start, Robbins only allowed a run on two hits. While his innings remained in the 3-4 range, Robbins made 9 starts as a regular starter. On July 31st, Jimmy Robbins completed 5 innings for the first time all season, holding Everette scoreless on one hit and two walks while racking up 11K.

On August 21st, he joined the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats rotation with four scoreless innings. Jimmy Robbins finally picked up his first professional win in his 27th appearance on September 11th.

The Numbers

Across three levels the lefty posted a 2.59ERA with a 1.21WHIP while holding opponents to a .214 batting average. In 76.1 innings, Robbins threw 6 wild pitches and hit 9 batters to go along with 3.77 walks per 9 innings. Jimmy walked 32 batters and allowed 60 hits (.214Opp BA) for a 1.21WHIP.

Robbins shows a tendency to allow more balls to be hit in the air than on the ground. With Dunedin, he produced 48.5% batted balls on the ground. That number decreased to 36.5% with Vancouver and 34.9% with New Hampshire. However, the number of batted balls resulting in line drives decreased with each promotion. Going from 24.2% to 22.4% to 11.1%.

Jimmy Robbins also saw his strikeout numbers decrease at higher levels. He 13.5/9IP with the D-Jays, 11.72/9IP with the C’s, and 9.89/9IP with the Fisher Cats. While his K/9 was the lowest in Double-A, his 4.33K/BB was the best.

Looking Ahead

Jimmy Robbins should receive consideration as a candidate for a spot on Buffalo’s rotation. However, after pitching just 76.1IP and 95.1IP since 2019, it might be best for the promising lefty to start the season with New Hampshire. I expect the organization to build/monitor his innings similar to how they handled Nate Pearson in 2021, alternating between 4 and 6 innings. It’s possible they utilize the piggyback system.

The Majors?

Toronto’s rotation is currently set with Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, and Chris Bassitt. The 5th spot in the rotation will see Yusei Kikuchi, Mitch White, and Zach Thompson do battle. Behind that trio, the Blue Jays are hoping that Nate Pearson can finely fulfill his promise as a starter and Yosver Zulueta can develop into a starter. Also on the 40-man roster, Thomas Hatch could also throw his hat in the ring for the 5th starter job.

In the bullpen, Tim Mayza is the only lefty currently. Mayza could be joined by Kikuchi if the Japanese lefty fails to secure a spot in the rotation.

The 25-year-old Robbins has the stuff to force the Blue Jays’ hand with a strong showing this spring. Most likely out of the bullpen. But it is more likely, Jimmy Robbins will spend a month in Double-A before he heads to Triple-A where he will further position himself for the majors. With his innings limited, Robbins will be a prime candidate as a starter, opener, and lefty who can throw multiple innings.

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