Though Yusei Kikuchi wouldn’t have been scheduled to start until the weekend, it seems we’ve been given a clue about what the Blue Jays’ plans are for the struggling lefty.
The Star’s Gregor Chisholm reported ahead of Wednesday’s game with the Baltimore Orioles that Kikuchi wasn’t among the pitchers who followed Ross Stripling on his way to the dugout. Keegan Matheson of MLB.com then followed that up with a report that Kikuchi was sitting in the team’s bullpen.
All of this would indicate that the Blue Jays have decided not to use Kikuchi as a starter anymore. There had been some speculation that the Blue Jays could opt to stash him on the Injured List with a phantom injury, just as they did earlier this season, but it seems the team will try to get him to sort it out while pitching in shorter, lower leverage situations out of the bullpen.
It would obviously be huge for the Blue Jays if Kikuchi could become an effective reliever, as their only quality lefty, Tim Mayza, is currently injured, but that’s probably a big ask for somebody who can’t locate the strike zone. Simply not having Kikuchi come out and make a three- or four-inning start every fifth day is a positive for the team at this point.
The Blue Jays will likely roll with a rotation that features Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Ross Stripling, and Mitch White.