It’s early in the 2019 season but the Blue Jays pitching depth, in the rotation and in the bullpen, has already been tested
The objective of the Blue Jays front office this offseason was to add as many arms to the system as possible. They kicked things off by trading Aledmys Diaz to the Houston Astros to pick up Trent Thornton.
Elvis Luciano selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Two rotation spots opened up when Ryan Borucki experienced inflammation in his left elbow and Clayton Richard experienced knee soreness. A pair of bullpen spots opened up when Axford and Ryan Tepera were shelved as Spring Training came to a close. Combine those injuries with Buchholz and Bud Norris not ready to go yet (soon) thanks to being signed late in the spring and the Blue Jays minor league pitching depth is getting tested early.
Toronto replaced Borucki with Trent Thornton who shined in his debut. They replaced Richard with Sean Reid-Foley who struggled from the first pitch. Fortunately, Thomas Pannone stepped up for Toronto in relief and may have earned himself a start next time through the rotation.
But it hasn’t just been the injury bug that will cause Toronto to reach down to the minor leagues for addition arms. The Blue Jays have already played in two extra innings games. They are also staring down the barrel of 11 games without a day off to begin the season. Throw in a two-inning start by SRF where Toronto used both of their multi-inning relievers and you are in desperate need of some fresh arms.
It’s safe to assume that Sean Reid-Foley will be heading back to the minors. The Blue Jays could also send Pannone and/or Gaviglio down as well.
The Blue Jays could call upon Jacob Waguespack and/or David Paulino if they want another starter or multi-inning reliever. Hector Perez who has yet to pitch above Double-A is also a possibility. Yennsy Diaz and Patrick Murphy are also on the 40-man roster but both are extreme longshots in this scenario.
Lacking Bullpen Depth
While the starting pitching depth is good. The bullpen depth is not. There are not healthy bullpen arms available on the 40-man roster.
Ryan Tepera is a couple of weeks away. Bud Norris is still without a timetable and the same can be said about David Phelps.
The Blue Jays could look to Danny Barnes or Justin Shafer or Jason Adams, all three relievers have major league experience but none are listed on the 40-man roster. Barnes and Adams struggled in 2018 but they could be important arms sooner than later. Shafer has yet to prove himself to be a bonafide major league reliever but he leads the way in the next wave of Blue Jays relievers.
Where will the innings come from if Stroman/Sanchez/Shoemaker stumble over the next three starts?
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