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Photo Credit: Buffalo Bisons

The Nick Tepesch Era Will Continue

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.

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.

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  • lukewarmwater

    Cam I tend to agree with you that it is indeed garbage time. Sure the relief brigade is tired but they are tired from having to pitch most nights 3 to 5 innings at least. I’m not sure how Gibby painted himself into a corner last night as the relief guys did have Monday off and John went through 6 relievers last night. You mention the fragile state of a rookie starter, well I can’t help but think that the psych of Cole who had pitched something like 12 innings all season received a non boost with his horrendous introduction to the bigs. At least his wife got some nice pictures on her I-Pad.
    So yeah I totally agree Cam with so many teams in front for the wild card, start to experiment more and basically have a 5 or 6 week spring training in late August in September to give some of the kids some big league experience.
    As I mentioned to Andrew previously, I think the fourth largest market in North America with the outstanding promotion that Rogers does with a gazillion special nights, give aways, ceremonies etc. , the Jays have a hard core base of approximetely 25 to 30 thousand. Throw the Yankees and Red Sox into close to one quarter of your season, opening day, Canada day etc. and we are getting 40 thousand plus with the triple A Oakland A’s coming to town. I’m sure there will be some fans cutting back on tickets, but tourism, corporations buying block tickets, the only show in town will keep the crowds next year to the point where the Jays will be at least at the 2.5 million mark.
    Patience is truly the key now as this team will hopefully and luckily build through the draft to be a contender. I think most M.L.B. teams have given up on the Billy Joe Bob veteran utility guy or D.H. or slow as molasses left fielder as the key off season free agent signings. Throw in the deteriorating David Price people in as well. To me I would invest the money on solid relievers. Yes, yes, yes, the guy might be the next Bill Caudill but as we watch these days, the bullpen does need to be truly strengthened in 2018.
    Thanks again for your articles.