Nick Tepesch became the 11th guy to partake in Toronto’s game of starting pitcher musical chairs last night. The 28-year-old journeyman who was acquired back in July from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for cash tossed four-and-one-third innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits while striking out four.
The starting rotation, which was expected to be a strength this season, has been nothing short of a disaster. Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman have each made 23 starts, but the former had a two-month long period of struggle that we hadn’t seen in his Blue Jays career. Francisco Liriano was all over the grid and was dealt at the trade deadline, J.A. Happ missed a decent chunk of time but has been solid since coming off of the disabled list, and Aaron Sanchez’s season has been completely derailed due to that goddamn blister.
Stroman has really been the only constant in Toronto’s rotation this season, and as a result, the Jays have had to dig very deep into the bag of depth to find arms capable of eating innings. The hole has been filled by Mat Latos, Casey Lawrence, Joe Biagini, Mike Bolsinger, Cesar Valdez, and now Tepesch, who will apparently be given another opportunity to start.
Will #BlueJays give Nick Tepesch another turn in rotation? Gibbons: "I don't see why you wouldn't"— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) August 10, 2017
I mean, sure? Who the hell else is it going to be?
Even beyond Tepesch, the Blue Jays have yet to determine who their starter for Saturday’s game is going to be. They could pluck Brett Oberholtzer, TJ House, or Chris Rowley from Triple-A, or throw prospect Ryan Borucki, who’s killing it in Double-A, into the deep end.
I can’t imagine that Borucki is actually an option. Like I said, he’s had an excellent season, posting a 1.71 ERA over 26 1/3 innings for New Hampshire since being promoted a few weeks ago. Are you really going to take the risk of ruining what confidence and momentum he has going on in the minors? Back in the Alex Anthopolous days when depth wasn’t a priority we saw the likes of Sean Nolin, Miguel Castro, and Dalton Pompey rushed through the minors and thrown into big league situations when they clearly weren’t ready. Even if Borucki is better than whatever random Quad-A arm eats up these innings, it probably isn’t ideal for his development.
There’s also a bit of an issue with bringing up Rowely. The 26-year-old undrafted free agent signing from 2013 is much more of an actual prospect than any of his Buffalo teammates right now. He owns a 2.29 ERA through 106 1/1 innings between Triple- and Double-A this season, so like with Borucki, throwing him into the fire comes with its risks. Also, if he does come up and get shelled, the Jays would waste an option, which won’t be an issue if they wait to give him a cup of coffee when rosters expand in September.
So that leaves us with a rotation of Stroman, Happ, Estrada, Tepesch, and either Oberholtzer or House until — well, if — Sanchez comes back. And to be honest, at this point in what appears to be a lost season, bringing him back and potentially risking furthering his blister issue might not be the best idea.
Cesar Valdez and Lucas Harrell will be options again when they’re taken off the disabled list, and Mike Bolsinger, who’s cleared waivers for, like, the sixth time this season will be too. It’s a difficult pill to swallow considering the Jays are only five games out of a playoff spot, but it’s garbage time. It’s best to let the random depth pitchers ride it out and hope for a miracle.