Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Bowden Francis could battle for the fifth spot in the rotation
1 month ago
This pitcher was vital to eating innings in the Blue Jays bullpen.
On July 6, 2021, the Blue Jays traded Rowdy Tellez to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for big league reliever Trevor Richards and prospect pitcher Bowden Francis. The former is who we’ll be looking at in this article.
Francis had a solid 2021 with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, posting a 4.19 ERA and a 5.65 FIP in 73 innings pitched, as the Jays added the big righty to the 40-man roster. He made his MLB debut the next season, pitching just two thirds of an inning and striking out a batter. Francis’ numbers in Triple-A that season weren’t great, as he had a 6.59 ERA and a 6.02 FIP in 98.1 innings, along with a 24.3 K% and a 9.5 BB%.
The 27-year-old had a massive turn-around in 2023, posting a 2.67 ERA and a 4.24 FIP in 27 innings with the Buffalo Bisons, along with a 37.2 K% and a 6.2 BB%. However, Francis made his mark with the big league team, where he finished the season with a 1.73 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 36.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.7 K% and a 5.9 BB%.
Although he didn’t start a game in the big leagues, Francis has been stretched out as a starter in years prior and also pitched up to four innings in a game during the 2023 season. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Jays could see Francis as a back-end starter.
Still, the competition for the final spot in the rotation is fierce. As it stands, Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassit, and Yusei Kikuchi occupy four spots in the rotation. That leaves just one spot for 2022 American League Cy Young nominee Alek Manoah, new signee Yariel Rodríguez, out-of-options Mitch White, and Francis.
With one option year remaining and the Jays depth at both starting pitching and the swing-man role – likely filled by Rodríguez and/or White – Francis may find himself as the odd man out and end up in Buffalo because of the flexibility with the option year.
However, it’s unlikely that the Blue Jays rotation remains as healthy as it did last season, so we’ll definitely see Francis in some capacity next season, perhaps as a starter.
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