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What do we want to see in September?

The days of Competitive September Baseball are gone. Now we’re into Expanded Roster September Baseball as we look forward to Large Adult Sons injecting some much-needed intrigue to the Blue Jays’ roster.

Last September, we got kind of a weird blend of players joining the expanded roster. There weren’t many interesting prospects at the higher levels of the system, so the excitement was built around newly-acquired Toescar Hernandez, infielder Richard Urnea, and reliever Carlos Ramirez. Otherwise, the additions to the roster were, like, Brett Anderson and Michael Saunders.

Given Toronto’s injury issues all season, we’ve already actually seen a lot of the prospects in the upper minors get their cup of coffee at the big league level. Lourdes Gurriel and Ryan Borucki have hit the ground running, Sean Reid-Foley came up for a couple starts but struggled, Billy McKinney has been killing the ball as of late, and Thomas Pannone flirted with a no-no, albeit against an Orioles team worse than most of the Triple-A lineups he faces on a regular basis.

Who’s on the 40-man?

  • Danny Barnes and Luis Santos, two non-prospects currently in Triple-A, will most certainly be added back to the big league roster to provide depth in the ‘pen.
  • David Paulino, one of the pitchers acquired from Houston in the Roberto Osuna deal, is probably a long shot to get recalled. He hasn’t yet pitched in the Blue Jays system and made his last appearance in July. Seeing him in September is probably a stretch.
  • Sean Reid-Foley will be back up in September. Will be as a starter or a reliever, though?
  • Reese McGuire has taken on the full-time catching role in Triple-A Buffalo since Danny Jansen’s recall to the Jays. That said, with Russell Martin and Luke Maile already taking a back seat to Jansen’s development, it’s hard to imagine the Jays adding a fourth catcher to the mix.
  • Richard Urena will get added back to the roster in September but there won’t be much playing time for him, I don’t think, with Devon Travis, Gurriel, Aledmys Diaz, and Russell Martin taking up reps in the infield. Also, Brandon Drury and Yangervis Solarte will be returning from injury eventually. And what about Josh Donaldson?
  • Rowdy Tellez has hit the ball really well in Triple-A as of late. That said, the Jays have a logjam in the 1B/DH role with Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales. Still, we could see Tellez when the Bisons season ends.
  • There’s a big mess in the outfield. Right now, the Jays are rolling with Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, Billy McKinney, and Toescar Hernandez as their four outfielders with Curtis Granderson relegated to a mentor role. Dalton Pompey, Anthony Alford, and Dwight Smith are on the 40-man, but there isn’t much room for them. Buffalo’s season ends Sept. 3. We could see all three, but there isn’t much playing time to go around.
Apr 6, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) works out before a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

What does it all mean?

  • The biggest additions to the team come September will be the pitching staff. When Marcus Stroman returns from injury, the Jays could operate with a six-man rotation. That could involve Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Sammy G, Stroman, Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, and Thomas Pannone. Will the Jays prioritize giving starts to their three rookies? Estrada could be traded before September, though that seems unlikely given the fact he hasn’t been good as of late. Sammy G could be slid back into a long-man role given the fact he probably isn’t a long-term solution for the team as a starter.
  • I know it seems sexy to relegate Kevin Pillar to the bench in favour of prospects like Anthony Alford or Dalton Pompey, but it isn’t going to happen. The Jays may move on from Pillar this summer, and if they do, they’ll be moving him in a trade. By pushing him to the bench in September, they’ll be completely sewering what value he does have in a trade at this point. That isn’t worth opening up playing time for prospects in Triple-A who haven’t exactly kicked the door down.
  • There are some others not currently on the 40-man who could be added. Guys like Mike Hauschild and Taylor Guerreri could be removed from the 40-man to make room for somebody else. The first option that sticks out to me is Conor Fisk, a reliever who has a 2.21 ERA over 69 1/3 nice innings with New Hampshire and Buffalo. I can’t imagine we’ll see any of Bo, Vlad, or Biggio added to the team in September. It’ll start their service clocks early and the Fisher Cats are going to go on a playoff run in September. There’s an outside chance we see a pitcher like Jordan Romano, Travis Bergen, or Zach Jackson added to the 40-man in mid-September, but it doesn’t seem all too likely.