Blue Jays relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson likely to start season on the Injured List

Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have set the position player side of their 26-man roster ahead of Opening Day but there are still decisions to make when it comes to the pitching staff.
Over the weekend, manager John Schneider informed Ernie Clement, Davis Schneider, Brian Serven, and Daniel Vogelbach that they would be joining the Blue Jays as they kick off the 2024 regular season against the Tampa Bay Rays later this week. Those four plus Alejandro Kirk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Kevin Kiermaier, George Springer, Daulton Varsho, and Justin Turner will be the 13 position players the Blue Jays have on their season-opening roster.
Heading to the Injured List right off the hop will be catcher Danny Jansen and starting pitcher Alek Manoah, while Schneider added on Monday that it’s “reasonable to say” that relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson will be on the shelf as well.
Toronto’s pitching depth will be tested early as the team navigates a gauntlet schedule that includes playing their first 10 games of the season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees.
Jose Berrios will get the ball on Thursday in Tampa for his second Opening Day start with the Blue Jays. Veteran pitchers Chris Bassitt and Yusei Kikuchi are expected to start in that series against the Rays, along with 27-year-old Bowden Francis, who earned Manoah’s spot in the starting rotation following an excellent performance in Grapefruit League play.
Kevin Gausman is making his first Grapefruit League start for the Blue Jays on Monday in their final game of Spring Training. If all goes well for Toronto’s ace in his exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he could be available to open Toronto’s second series of the season in Houston next Monday.
If that’s the case, the Blue Jays will enter the season with Gausman, Berrios, Bassitt, Kikuchi, and Francis as their five-man starting rotation. This leaves eight spots for a bullpen that will be without two key late-inning arms in Romano and Swanson. Five spots in the bullpen will be filled by Yimi Garcia, Chad Green, Trevor Richards, Genesis Cabrera, and Tim Mayza, so there are three more left for other pitchers.
Mitch White impressed with his velocity throughout the spring and is without options, so he seems very likely to be one of those three relievers. Veteran Paolo Espino was one of Toronto’s best pitchers in Grapefruit League play, as he posted a 2.65 ERA over 17 innings with a team-leading 24 strikeouts. The challenge for the 37-year-old righty is that the Blue Jays would need to add him to the 40-man roster.  Carrying other arms, such as Yariel Rodriguez, Nate Pearson, Zach Pop, and Wes Parsons, wouldn’t require any sort of transaction.
Schneider also noted last week that top prospect Ricky Tiedemann is “in the mix” to break camp with the team and pitch in Tampa or Houston. The young lefty looked like a big-leaguer in his most recent outing against the Pirates but, like Espino, would need to be added to the 40-man roster in order to make the team. Since the Blue Jays already need to add Brian Serven and Daniel Vogelbach, finding room for another pitcher or two would present a challenge.


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