The Toronto Blue Jays will soon have some decisions to make regarding their 25-man playoff roster. Hopefully. This is not a familiar process for the Blue Jays, but with the return of Marcus Stroman and inconsistent performances from their starting rotation, ESPN’s Dan Schulman predicts the Jays could leave Mark Buehrle on the outside looking in with Drew Hutchison.
Before diving into any of this, it’s critical to remember that this scenario would require the Blue Jays to align themselves perfectly with game one of the playoffs, something easier said than done. We’ll address the projected scheduling as the end of the season draws a little closer, but in the meantime, let’s examine the three moving parts involved in this potential four-man playoff rotation.
Marcus Stroman: For any of this to be possible, the Blue Jays need Stroman to return not just healthy, but dominant. Stroman remains extremely confident that his stuff is back to the level we saw in 2014, but if he brings in similar results to Buehrle and Hutchison, this entire picture becomes very complicated. He’ll have his first opportunity to bring us some clarity this Saturday when he makes his return to the mound against the New York Yankees.
Drew Hutchison: Last night’s start was likely the final, final, final nail in the coffin of Hutch’s playoff hopes. While he’s shown some signs of turning it around over the past month, the consistency is nowhere near what the Jays need in a five game series. There remains a very small possibility that Hutchison gets shot in a bullpen role down the stretch and leading into the playoffs, but in all likelihood, he’ll be left looking ahead to 2016.
Mark Buehrle: As we know with Buehrle, health will be the issue. The rate at which his velocity and performance has fallen off over the past month has been alarming, but another extended rest and cortisone shot to his left shoulder could rejuvenate the veteran. The narrative about Buehrle getting old is become horribly overplayed, though. If he pitches well for Toronto down the stretch, he can be in, if he doesn’t, he can be out. Just like anyone else.
A lot needs to fall in the Blue Jays favor to execute a four-man rotation that they’re confident in, but if this does happen, it will give them valuable flexibility elsewhere on their roster. Alex Anthopoulos and John Gibbons will be able to maximize their bullpen weapons, and it may even allow them to cary a base running specialist in Dalton Pompey. There are miles to go before the decision needs to be made, however, and the Jays still need to take care of one important thing: making the playoffs.