With injury news flying around the Toronto Blue Jays over the last few days, fans of the team have their worst fears thrust in front of them
The Toronto Blue Jays are starting to scare people. OK, that might be a bit dramatic, but with recent news of injuries propping up, our worst fears are getting closer and closer. Injuries to key players dramatically impacted the 2017 season for Canada’s team and after a winter of trying to insulate against the same thing happening, the club’s efforts will be put to the test as the injury bug doesn’t seem to want to leave.
So, starting the season without Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t much of a surprise. Though having surgery on both feet was unexpected. At this point, there is a rather
vocal large segment of the population that has come to expect a certain number of games to be played without Tulo. The Blue Jays front office certainly expected as much. That is why they set about collecting pieces like Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte and Gift Ngoepe. To date, these pieces have filled in nicely, almost allowing us to forget about Tulo’s absence…almost.
If Tulo were the only injury to cover, this team would be in great shape with quality depth to spare. But, Josh Donaldson‘s “dead arm” necessitated that depth being stretched a little further to cover third base while his bat was kept in the lineup. Now, with Donaldson hitting the 10 Day DL, there will need to be full time coverage on both sides of the ball. That could mean Solarte getting the bulk of time at the hot corner with an appearance, or two, from Russell Martin. Obviously, pulling a catcher puts a dent at that positional depth as well.
With Kendrys Morales on the DL, the initial response would be that the Blue Jays are actually in better shape because they get to use the DH spot to cycle in all of their talent and provide days of rest for significant roster pieces. But, with depth required to fill other areas, options become slightly limited.
Marco Estrada had his back act up on him, but appears to be OK for his next start. But, Blue Jays fans know all too well that Estrada’s back will be a lingering issue. That isn’t a question. What is a question is the extent to which it impacts his ability to stay on the field. Should he need time, Joe Biagini will likely be called upon to take his spot in the rotation. And, the elephant in the room will be thrust front and center. The Blue Jays pitching depth has upside, for sure, but it isn’t exactly a slam dunk. After Biagini, who has mixed reviews in the starter’s role. Ryan Borucki might be the next option, which would be exciting, but far from a sure bet.
On Friday night, Devon Travis was hit on the hand by a pitch and went for precautionary X-rays. The moment Travis jumped in pain, you could almost feel a collective inhale from Blue Jays Land. Losing Travis for another stretch of time would further put strain on the depth of this team. Of course, before we could get to logical, baseball discussion we would have to sift through the noise of a hit by pitch being proof that Travis is injury prone. That exhausting narrative aside, a trip to the DL would be most frustrating for the player since he finally appeared to be healthy. It would also stretch existing depth further.
But, the real issue is that a potential injury to Travis means that our worst fear is thrust front and center. While the club has built up solid depth, having to stretch it further and further lessens the impact of it. Think of this as a game of Red Rover. The fewer players are holding hands in a line, the more their arms are stretched, making it easier to break through. The further they have to stretch, the weaker they become. The Toronto Blue Jays may not be playing a game of Red Rover just yet. But the fact is that they are walking a thin line. While they have started the season in great shape, injuries are looming over their shoulders.
Of course, you could accuse me of being over dramatic. Every team in baseball has to deal with injuries. It is the nature of such a long season. Good teams figure out how to weather this problem. But, that’s just the point. We saw injuries derail a season in 2017. We think the Blue Jays have figured out how to survive a repeat. But, lately, that theory seems to be closer and closer to being put to the test. The fear is that the harder it’s tested, the weaker the team becomes.
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