It looks like there’s an opening in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation.
Veteran Chase Anderson, who was named as one of Charlie Montoyo’s pencilled-in starting pitchers to open the season, has suffered an oblique strain and it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for opening day.
Before Anderson got hurt, Montoyo said that his rotation would feature Hyun-Jin Ryu, Anderson, Tanner Roark, and Matt Shoemaker, with Trent Thornton, who led the team in innings pitched last season, leading the pack for the fifth spot. Now, with Anderson out, there’s room for another one of Toronto’s young starters to grab a spot.
Nate Pearson’s name obviously jumps out, given the fact he’s probably already Toronto’s second-best starter behind Ryu. But, as I explained yesterday, Pearson won’t be ready to pitch at the Major League level until at least a week after the regular season has started. It would be a pretty big surprise to see the Jays not do the service time manipulation dance with Pearson at this point.
There are plenty of options to compete for the final spot in the Jays’ rotation. Ryan Borucki became somewhat of an afterthought back in spring training as his elbow issues flared up again, but, having three months of the season wiped gave him time to get healthy.
There’s also Jacob Waguespack, who pitched quite a bit for Montoyo last year, Anthony Kay and T.J. Zeuch, who both made their Major League debuts in September, and Thomas Hatch, who was acquired at last year’s trade deadline and pitched well enough to Double-A to get protected from the Rule 5 draft.
Shun Yamaguchi came into spring training competing for the fifth spot in the rotation but struggled mightily in his four Grapefruit League outings. It appeared back in spring that he was going to end up in a bullpen role, but he could be back in the mix for a starter gig with Anderson injured.
I would guess that Borucki gets a shot in the rotation out of the gate. He looked to be a key part of Toronto’s future after a great rookie performance in 2018, but injuries got in the way of his development. It seems ideal now that he’s healthy to give Borucki a chance to pick up where he left off a couple of years ago.