The Blue Jays are mixing up the order of their starting rotation
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays are using Monday’s off-day to ensure that Yusei Kikuchi’s starts and their bullpen games don’t fall on back-to-back days anymore.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, Kevin Gausman will start for the Blue Jays on Friday as they kick off their weekend series in Texas with the AL East-leading Rangers. The bullpen day will happen on Saturday and then Chris Bassitt will finish off the series on Sunday.
Toronto came into the season with Alek Manoah, Gausman, Bassitt, José Berríos, and Kikuchi as their pitching rotation but plans have changed because of the struggles of their Opening Day starter. Manoah saw his ERA balloon to 6.36 after being drilled by the Houston Astros back on June 5 and the Blue Jays sent him to the team’s pitching lab in Dunedin to sort himself out.
There’s no timetable for when Manoah will return to the big leagues and the Blue Jays don’t have a plug-and-play sixth pitcher option, so Manoah’s spot in the rotation will be a bullpen day involving names like Trevor Richards, Bowden Francis, and Mitch White for the foreseeable future.
The issue with having that bullpen come after Kikuchi’s start became clear last weekend when the Blue Jays dropped two frustrating games to the Minnesota Twins. Kikuchi only went five innings on Friday and the Blue Jays wound up having to use Adam Cimber in extra innings because Richards was set to be the opener on Saturday. Nate Pearson pitched two innings to piggyback off of Kikuchi and wasn’t available on Saturday, so Cimber again pitched in a high-leverage spot and got lit up for six runs while recording just one out.
The hope with changing the order of Toronto’s starting rotation is that Gausman can give the team some length between Kikuchi’s start and the bullpen day.
That said, this move comes with a little bit of a risk because Gausman has been much better when making a start with an extra day of rest than he has been going after the standard four days off between starts. He allowed six runs over four-and-two-thirds innings in his last outing against the Twins on Sunday and will have four days of rest before going up against the Rangers on Friday.
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