Blue Jays Morning Brew: Raving about Miguel Castro, Mark Buehrle’s pace, and more
As we sit here today, the Toronto Blue Jays are now 17 days removed from their Opening Day match-up with the New York Yankees. That’s 17 days remaining to answer a number of questions revolving around the team, such as, “How will the bullpen shape up?”, “Who is going to take the first base job?”, or “What is the team’s plan at second base?”. While some of those questions will surely linger on to the waning days of camp, others are already starting to answer themselves.
While the bullpen was obviously the biggest question mark coming into the spring, the Blue Jays are actually starting to look a little bit more secure there as Spring Training wears on. In particular, the team seems to be very enamored in the performances of youngsters Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna, who are both making it a tough decision on the Blue Jays to include them on the roster when camp breaks, according to Brendan Kennedy at the Toronto Star. Both have been electric this spring and neither has allowed a run to score yet, but the decision for the Blue Jays may not come down to spring performance, as both are merely 20-years-old and neither has pitched above A-Ball yet. The team may want to allow the pair to continue on their development path and continue to start in the minors rather than pitch in relief in the Majors. In the meantime, the two will continue to make it difficult on the team not to keep them with the big club.
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Also from Mr. Kennedy, we hear that Brett Cecil is continuing to progress and is eager to get into games. Held out with some shoulder discomfort, Cecil says he’s feeling great and still thinks he can be ready by Opening Day. That would be a big boon for the Blue Jays, who would have a lot of things become much clearer if Cecil is able to step in and take over the closer role. That would allow Aaron Sanchez to slide into the rotation immediately and let the rest of the bullpen fill in around Cecil. The first step is throwing in a minor league game on Saturday, and then possibly getting into the mix in a big league game next week.
Of course, one person who could benefit from Cecil becoming the closer would be left-hander Colt Hynes. With Cecil closing, the Blue Jays will want to carry an extra lefty in the set-up crew alongside Aaron Loup, and Hynes is making his case to win that role per Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. The Blue Jays plucked Hynes off waivers from the Dodgers last August, but he pitched in just 8.1 innings for Triple-A Buffalo before the season ended, posting a 1.08 ERA in the process. However, he’s taken advantage of the chance this spring, allowing just 1 hit in 4.2 innings of work while striking out 5 and walking none. He could be in line to seize the job, especially with Rob Rasmussen already optioned to the Bisons.
Outside of the bullpen arrangement, the Blue Jays still need to settle the second base competition as well. As Mr. Chisholm also notes, that competition is becoming more and more clear as Devon Travis is stepping up and seizing the bull by the horns. After a slow start at the dish, Travis has turned it up and is using consistently hard contact to put up a .300/.344/.367 slash line through his first 32 plate appearances. Additionally, he’s played steady defense at second and shown that despite the team’s initial plans to start him in Buffalo, it is looking more and more likely that he’ll be the team’s starting second baseman in April.
Finally, we have some questions about the rotation. With the injury to Marcus Stroman, the initial plans have been waylayed a bit and that has caused some strife for John Gibbons, namely in setting up his rotation according to Gregor Chisholm. Gibbons is not ready to commit to R.A. Dickey as the team’s Opening Day starter, a role he’s held each of the last two seasons and likely would have gone to Stroman had it not been for the injury. However, it may not come down to performance, as Chisholm notes the Blue Jays may be lining up Dickey’s starts to avoid pitching in Baltimore during the second series, and then having his next three starts in the climate controlled dome. That would put Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison in line to possibly get the Opening Day nod.
In case you missed anything from our team here at Jays Journal over the last few days, we also tackled a number of Spring Training issues, including Eric noting that Justin Smoak is doing everything he can to lose his roster spot. Craig then took a look at Miguel Castro’s mechanics and takes note that his advanced development may be do to the polish he has as a 20-year-old.