Blue Jays – Yariel Rodríguez set to make his Major League debut against the Rockies

Photo credit:© Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
14 days ago
Following last night’s 12-4 loss, Blue Jays manager John Schneider informed the media postgame that right-hander Yariel Rodríguez would be making his big league debut against the Colorado Rockies later today, working as the starter. Rodríguez was in Toronto as part of the team’s taxi squad last night but to make room for him on the active roster, the Blue Jays will need to make a corresponding move that has yet to be announced.
The path to the Majors has been long and winding for Rodríguez, as the 27-year-old began his baseball journey back in his home country of Cuba when he was just 18 years old. He pitched for six seasons in the Cuban National Series before taking his talents overseas to Japan, where he suited up for the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball.
With the Dragons, Rodríguez worked as both a starter and a reliever and his best campaign came back in 2022 when he pitched solely in relief, amassing a 1.15 ERA through 54 2/3 innings while allowing just seven earned runs on the year while striking out 60.
Last year, Rodríguez represented Team Cuba at the World Baseball Classic and put on a clinic, allowing just two earned runs through two starts and 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out ten while holding opponents to a .200 average. He took the ball in the quarterfinal against Australia, limiting the Aussies to just two hits and one earned run, helping Cuba advance to the semifinal.

Yariel Rodríguez set to make his Blue Jays debut

Following the tournament, Rodríguez stayed in the Dominican Republic and did not return to Japan as he sought to turn stateside and join a Major League Baseball squad. In October, the Dragons officially released him from his NPB contract and the MLB Commissioner’s Office declared him a free agent a month later, with the Cuban product later agreeing to a five-year deal with the Blue Jays.
With the ability to both start and work in relief, the Jays had Rodríguez working off the mound in Spring Training as a member of the rotation but back spasms delayed his ramp-up through camp. Through two Spring Training starts, he allowed just one earned run through five innings (a solo home run) while striking out three and holding opponents to a .133 average.
He started the year in Buffalo as a member of the rotation instead and through two starts, Rodríguez has allowed just one hit and zero earned runs through 6 1/3 innings of work.
His first professional start under the Blue Jays saw the 6-foot hurler blank the Worcester Red Sox through four innings while walking one batter and striking out six. His last start (against the Red Sox again) saw him notch four more strikeouts while limiting the damage to just one hit and two walks, impressing the Jays staff enough to call him up for today’s contest at the Rogers Centre. Armed with a four-seam fastball, sinker, curve and slider, Rodríguez was able to keep triple-A hitters uncomfortable amidst his short tenure in the minors.
It is expected that right-hander Bowden Francis will follow Rodríguez today, as the Jays starter has been told he will pitch today in some form and has struggled this season in the. In regards to the roster move, the Blue Jays have a few bullpen arms that they will likely be sent down, as Nate Pearson and Paolo Espino both have minor-league options at their disposal. Also on the potential chopping block is Mitch White, although he would need to be designated for assignment given his lack of options.
The news of Rodríguez’s professional debut also follows in the footsteps of some Blue Jays players continuing to get work down in Buffalo as they return from injury. Danny Jansen, Erik Swanson, Jordan Romano, and Alek Manoah are all set to play today in the Bisons’ doubleheader and are on track to return to the Blue Jays roster as early as tomorrow.

Tyson Shushkewich is a contributor at the Blue Jays Nation. He can be followed on X or Instagram at Tyson_MLB or reached via email at Tyson_MLB@hotmail.com

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