Francisco Liriano’s role is already changing

Francisco Liriano
Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, when discussing the moves the Blue Jays made as rosters expanded and the deadline for teams to acquire players in order to make them playoff-eligible passed, I wrote a little about the Jays’ left-handed relief situation, noting that Francisco Liriano may find himself supplementing — or overtaking? — Brett Cecil in the bullpen come playoff time.

Turns out, I had the right idea, but was wrong about the timing of it.

This afternoon, as the Jays get set to open a series in Tampa, the club announced that Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ will be pitching on Saturday and Sunday respectively, and that R.A. Dickey and Aaron Sanchez will go in the first games in New York next week. Francisco Liriano, for the time being, has already been moved to the ‘pen.

“Gibbons said the Jays still expect Liriano to make at least a couple of starts,” tweeted Gregor Chisholm, “but this gives club an opportunity to see him in ‘pen.”

All things considered, it’s probably smart to get a sense of what Liriano might be as a reliever, before just throwing him into the fire in October. That said, it’s not like they have a whole lot of alternatives if it doesn’t look like a fit, so that’s probably his ultimate destiny this season anyway — all due respect to Aaron Loup, Matt Dermody, and whichever right-handed reliever has decent enough lefty splits to be considered for a spot as well.

I mean, maybe they’ll go with Loup as the secondary guy behind Cecil. And maybe Liriano will be forced back into the rotation by some as-yet-unforeseen unfortunateness. But having him as a bullpen option is ideal (provided he doesn’t walk the whole goddamned stadium). Having Estrada-Happ-Sanchez-Stroman as the playoff rotation is ideal, and getting a chance to see it in action early works too.

So… there’s that.