The Blue Jays have a good problem on their hands.
A couple of key players, Bo Bichette and Ken Giles, are nearing returns from their respective injuries, and a few other pitchers, Matt Shoemaker, Nate Pearson and Jordan Romano, shouldn’t be too far behind them.
The team had a busy trade deadline, adding Taijuan Walker, Jonathan Villar, Robbie Ray, and Ross Stripling in order to add some much-needed depth to the roster. Now, with more reinforcements from the Injured List on the way, the Blue Jays will have to figure out how to squeeze everybody on the 28-man roster.
This is a good problem to have, of course, but there’ll be some difficult decisions involved.
Here’s how the roster looks right now…
- Starting pitchers: Hyun Jin Ryu, Taijuan Walker, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, Chase Anderson.
- Relief pitchers: Anthony Bass, A.J. Cole, Rafael Dolis, Thomas Hatch, Anthony Kay, Ryan Borucki, Julian Merryweather, Robbie Ray, Shun Yamaguchi, Wilmer Font.
- Catchers: Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire.
- Infielders: Vladimir Guererro Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Travis Shaw, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Joe Panik, Jonathan Villar.
- Outfielders: Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher.
Bo Bichette is hitting against Ken Giles today in a live bullpen session. Apparently, if all goes well for Giles, he could be activated in the next few days. It also seems like Bichette isn’t far from being ready to go either, barring a setback.
Finding space on the roster for these two shouldn’t be all that difficult. When Bichette comes back, Santiago Espinal is the logical choice to be optioned to the Alternate Training site. With Giles, you’d expect that Wilmer Font, who has a 9.00 ERA right now, will get designated for assignment.
After that, it starts to get a bit more tricky.
The last we heard, the plan for Nate Pearson and Matt Shoemaker is for both of them to be in the starting rotation when they return. But that obviously isn’t a guarantee. There isn’t much time left in the season to get either pitcher to get built back up to start, and, in the case of Pearson, he was struggling as a starter before he got injured.
Regardless, the challenge here is figuring out who comes off of the 28-man roster when they’re back. Save for Font, who I’m assuming gets cut when Giles is back, nobody in the ‘pen is pitching poorly right now. Beyond that, the only starter who’s been bad is Tanner Roark, but he’s in the first year of a two-year, $24-million contract.
Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather, Anthony Kay, and Ryan Borucki are the names in the bullpen who have options, while Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, A.J. Cole, and Robbie Ray would need to go through waivers, and Shun Yamaguchi has a clause in his contract that states he can’t be sent down without his consent.
Of those four optionable pitchers… You certainly can’t send Hatch down given how good he’s been, so that’s a non-starter. The addition of Ray as a lefty weapon out of the ‘pen makes it possible to send Kay or Borucki down. I would lean towards the former sticking around given he can pitch more length. And then there’s Merryweather, who has an electric arm and has been excellent since getting called up.
Another thing to consider is possibly cutting a position player. Derek Fisher is slashing a .158/.292/.316 line right now. Given the fact Cavan Biggio can play the outfield, Fisher could end up getting squeezed out in order to make room for arms.
There’s also a very good chance this is a moot point and we never see a fully healthy 28-man roster this season. By the time Romano, Pearson, and Shoemaker are ready to return (if they are, that is), somebody else could be injured. Further to that, we could also very easily see a guy like Roark thrown on the Injured List with Right Arm Shittiness as a way to open up room for somebody else.
It’s certainly a good problem to have. It’s amazing how far we’ve come from the days of Edwin Jackson going out there every fifth day to throw batting practice because there’s nobody else.