Bowden Francis was the most deserving internal candidate and should get the ball on Saturday

Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
10 months ago
With the recent news of Alek Manoah being optioned to the Florida Complex League, the Toronto Blue Jays made a flurry of moves on Tuesday, one of which included the Jays selecting the contract of right-hander Bowden Francis from Triple-A Buffalo.
Francis was acquired by the Blue Jays alongside reliever Trevor Richards a few weeks prior to the 2021 trade deadline, with first baseman Rowdy Tellez heading to the Milwaukee Brewers. Selected by the Brewers in the seventh round of the 2017 draft, Francis has spent the majority of his time in the Jays organization in Triple-A, with one rehab start in Dunedin earlier this season. The Chipola Junior College product made his debut with the Jays last season, a relief appearance against the Boston Red Sox in late April where he allowed one hit and struck out one batter through 2/3 of an inning.
Speaking to Blue Jays Nation, Francis is excited about the opportunity to be back in the big leagues, “It feels really good to be back man, (I am) feeling super grateful. I’m prepared and I’m in a good spot with my stuff. I am excited to get it going.”

Bowden Francis Returns to the Blue Jays

While Francis missed over a month earlier this season due to injury, the right-hander has arguably been one of the top starting arms as of late in the Jays system, as he owns a 3.45 ERA through four stars with the Bisons. The 27-year old was used in both the rotation and bullpen last season but so far this year, he has been used as a starter and has amassed a 1.34 WHIP, a 2.3 BB/9, and has struck out 23 batters through 15 2/3 innings to the tune of a 13.2 K/9. Armed with a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and the occasional changeup, Francis sits in the mid-90s with the heater and pairs it nicely with his curveball, which sits roughly 15-20 mph slower than his fastball, mixing in the slider which sits in the mid to low 80s.
His last outing was against the St. Paul Saints back on May 31st and considering Manoah’s next allotted start was to be this Saturday against the Minnesota Twins, the right-hander is a possibility to make his first MLB start. Considering the most innings Francis has thrown this season sits at 4 2/3 innings, if he does make the start, it will likely be followed by relievers who could eat some innings like Trevor Richards and/or Adam Cimber. Manager John Schneider alluded that they could use Francis over the next four days before the Saturday slot but also mentioned that they likely want to have him available for Saturday, either starting or potentially following an opener.
Looking at the circumstances and what Francis has done at Triple-A so far this year, even with the opportunity arising because of Manoah’s struggles and subsequent option to the Minors, the Florida product had lots of high praise for his teammate, “I know he’s going to get it right, so I am going to do my best to fill in and give everything thing I got in the meantime.”
While Manoah being optioned did open up a spot for Francis, it isn’t out of the question that he could lock down a spot in the bullpen once Manoah is back in the Majors, as the club could really benefit with an arm like his to eat up innings in the long-man position, especially since Mitch White has been struggling on his rehab assignment as of late. Francis does have experience working out of the bullpen and the stamina to be a starter or go multiple innings as needed, which would provide a lot of benefits for a club that currently lacks in that role.
For now, Francis is the likely starter for this Saturday and amongst the rest of the Bisons starters so far this year, he is easily the most deserving of the opportunity.


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