We are inching closer and closer to the Toronto Blue Jays’ season opener on March 31st against the Tampa Bay Rays. As such, there still needs to be some roster trimming done and the Toronto Blue Jays did a little more of that on Sunday, as reported by Gregor Chisholm at MLB.com.
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) March 16, 2014
All three pitchers are expected to report to minor league camp before being optioned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bison.
The optioning of Sean Nolin and Kyle Drabek is significant, as they are the first two of the group that were competing for the fifth starter role to make an exit from camp. Of course, both did everything in their power to distance themselves as far away from that discussion as possible.
Drabek never truly inserted himself into the conversation as all, having struggled to regain both control and velocity, both of which cost him in camp. In 8 innings of work spread over 4 spring outings, Drabek allowed 8 earned runs, 10 hits, and 6 walks while striking out four. As noted by Keith Law (h/t DJF), Drabek is “approaching two years since the surgery, so more of his stuff would be back by now if it is ever going to come back.” Maybe trip to Buffalo will do wonders for the former top pitching prospect, who appears to still need time to redevelop what two Tommy John surgeries have apparently cost him.
Nolin had an outside shot at the rotation, but he was slated for Buffalo all spring unless he was light’s out in camp. He was about as far away from that as possible, posting an 11.81 ERA while allowing 10 hits, 2 home runs, and 5 walks over 5.1 innings this spring. His ticket to Buffalo was effectively punched on Saturday when he failed to get out of a second inning that was capped when Mikie Mahtook took him deep for a grand slam.
The only one of these three pitchers that looked relatively decent this spring was Chad Jenkins. Six innings of work resulted in a 4.05 ERA, including a 5/0 strike-out to walk ratio. His ultimate undoing was part of the numbers game, as Jenkins has minor league options available while the Blue Jays bullpen appears full of pitchers who do not. The question will be whether the Blue Jays continue to deploy the former 1st round pick as a starter at Buffalo or whether they start transitioning him to a bullpen role.