Jays From the Couch examines the injury to Francisco Liriano and the repercussions for the Blue Jays rotation.
Blue Jays veteran lefty Francisco Liriano was short lived in Wednesday’s 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians, allowing all seven runs in just two-plus innings of work. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was quick with the hook, bringing in Dominic Leone to douse the bases-loaded fire. Leone allowed a three-run double, ending Liriano’s line at two innings pitched, five hits, three walks, seven runs and zero strikeouts.
Quickly filed under “starts to forget”, it came out late Thursday afternoon that Liriano was actually pitching hurt, landing on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 11, 2017
In his article, Shi Davidi mentions a drop in velocity for Liriano this season, citing a drop of 93.98 to 92.22 on the fastball. Checking in at Baseball Savant, it seems Liriano’s velocity is down across the board for his most-used pitches.
The drops in velocity of all pitches, including his trademark slider, might be a sign that this is indeed a legitimate injury and not the rarely-discussed “case of mediocrity” DL stint. And with the amount of injuries this team has already dealt with in 2017, I doubt the Jays brass would send a veteran starter to the DL with a fake injury.
As a result of the Liriano injury, Leonel Campos was brought up from Triple-A Buffalo. Campos has had one stint with the club so far in 2017, tossing 1.2 innings and allowing just one hit. With the Herd, Campos tossed 11.2 innings to a 2.31 ERA and striking out 15 while going 2-for-2 in save opportunities. Chances are he won’t make it into too many games for the Jays before the activation of Aaron Sanchez from the DL on Sunday.
While this might seem like just another Blue Jays DL stint in the hellscape that has been the 2017 season, Liriano’s trip to the infirmary is an opportunity for other Blue Jays to rise up*. While Joe Biagini was probably safe in his spot filling in for J.A. Happ, Mike Bolsinger was likely the odd man out on Sunday with the activation of Sanchez.
Bolsinger was solid, if unmemorable in his season debut on Tuesday, allowing only two runs on three hits over 5.2 innings. Unfortunately he allowed four walks, limiting his ability to pitch deep into the game. Bolsinger has historically had much better control, walking just nine men over 27.2 innings in 2016 with the Dodgers. He certainly earned another start regardless of the injury to Liriano, especially when you consider Bolsinger is just one full season removed from a 6-6, 3.62 ERA effort over 109 IP in 2015. Considering how hard the team has been hit with injuries, it’s surprising they’ve waited so long to utilize him.
Sanchez, Happ and Liriano won’t be injured forever, so there will be a time in which Bolsinger and Biagini will be set up to battle for the fifth rotation spot. Again, that probably won’t last long, and Biagini probably has the edge right now, just with the body of work he has presented in 2017 so far. But as we’ve seen with the injuries and starting pitching blow-ups already this season, an arm like Bolsinger’s in the bullpen as a long man or occasional swing starter (you know Marco Estrada will miss a start due to his back ailments eventually) is especially valuable.
*You could tell me this is the hashtag for any team in the AL right now and I would probably believe it.
*Featured Image Credit: Kris Robinson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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