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Blue Jays still seeking pitching, defence as off-season unfolds

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Matt Shoemaker and Clayton Richard are the most significant additions yet for a Toronto pitching staff that badly needed off-season reinforcements, but neither veteran starter can be considered a certain bet for 150 innings, so the Blue Jays will continue to prioritize arms as the calendar turns to 2019.

“It could be in the form of starting, could be in the form of relief,” GM Ross Atkins said on a conference call with Toronto-based writers Monday. “We’ll continue to look to do that.”

Richard had a 5.33 ERA in 2018, and has typically been a mid or back-of-the-rotation starter, as evidenced by his lifetime 4.46 ERA. That said, his 60.3 per cent ground ball rate leads the National League since 2015, and his ability to keep the ball down appealed to the Blue Jays.

“He has a track record of hauling innings and also a clear — very clear — track record of keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark,” Atkins said.

As for Shoemaker, the Blue Jays were intrigued by his upside even after a difficult 2018 season in which injuries limited him to seven starts.........

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