Right-hander Casey Lawrence to start spring opener for Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons talks about the pitching of Mat Latos and Joe Biagini.

The Toronto Blue Jays have settled on a few starting pitchers for Grapefruit League games with right-hander Casey Lawrence getting spring training-opener duties against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

Joe Biagini will start the next day in the Blue Jays’ spring home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, while fellow right-hander Mat Latos gets the nod on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Biagini and Latos will likely be stretched out during the spring as the Blue Jays try to build depth beyond their starting rotation, which appears set. Biagini spent 2016 in the bullpen, posting a 3.72 ERA in 67.2 innings during his rookie season. Latos has been a starter for most of his eight-year career, but did pitch five games out of the Washington Nationals’ pen last season.

The 29-year-old Lawrence has spent the past seven seasons as primarily a starter in the Blue Jays’ minor league system, accumulating a 63-60 record with a 3.83 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 964 innings. He is known as a control pitcher and doesn’t strike out many, evidenced by his 5.9 K/9 ratio.

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