How should Blue Jays handle Price, Stroman, bullpen?


The Toronto Blue Jays will start R.A. Dickey in game four of the ALDS, but past that, we’re left with a handful of variables. Good ones, but question marks nonetheless. With both David Price and Marcus Stroman available out of the bullpen, how will manager John Gibbons choose to mix his pitching staff while still leaving the Jays with a potential advantage in a fifth and deciding game?

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Gibbons seemed to suggest on Sunday night that Price would be favoured in a fifth game, but that conversation is the stuff of fantasy unless Toronto is able to come out on top this afternoon and move the ALDS back to the Rogers Centre. Game four’s decision must take priority here, and much of that will rely on in-game situations.

If Dickey is able to work deep in to the game, leaving just one trip through the lineup remaining for the Blue Jays bullpen, that situation could lend itself to Gibbons favouring Stroman over Price if he wants one to relieve. Aaron Loup would be available for the run of left-handed batters, and unless that group comes around for a second time, I’m not sure how necessary it would be to throw Price into the game.

In an ideal world, of course, Dickey throws 6.0-7.0 strong innings, and a combination of Loup, Aaron Sanchez, Mark Lowe and Roberto Osuna are enough to secure a victory.

We don’t often live in that world, though, so all eyes will be on Gibbons as he has an opportunity to either quiet the hateful masses or send them storming the gates once again, pitchforks in hand. When the time comes, the decision of when to lift Dickey, and for whom, could be the biggest decision that Gibbons makes in 2015.

The dilemma has sparked a great deal of debates, most of which have ended in shouting and stomped feet. The truth is, this is a fine problem to have. If Gibbons is forced to go outside of his regular back end in the bullpen, he has the option between two ace-calibre arms that each bring a different set of skills to the table. In that moment, he must call for the pitcher who gives Toronto the best chance in game four. Whoever is left over for game five, that’s fine.

Price’s playoff history is little cause for inspiration, while Stroman’s recent start showed flashes of dominance. Still, it seems that Gibbons would prefer that the cards fall in a way that leaves him with his Cy Young candidate on Wednesday in Toronto. If you were Gibbons, what would you do?

Next: Inside the Blue Jays turning points from Tulo, Estrada

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