Blue Jays without Aaron Loup for game 5 of ALDS
The Toronto Blue Jays will be without left-handed relief pitcher in their fifth and deciding game of the ALDS on Wednesday. Loup has been unavailable since prior to game four due to what manager John Gibbons referred to as a “personal matter”.
There’s a critical human element here, and it’s important that we don’t pay any mind to the knuckle-dragging cavemen that have called for Loup to “gut it out” or “man up”. That’s not what this is about, and Loup seems to have the full support of the organization. As he should.
If we can detach from that and look at the separate, less-important storyline on the field, this leaves the Blue Jays without a true left-handed reliever while facing a very lefty-heavy lineup. Loup had not enjoyed much success in 2015, but his career splits against lefties give the Jays confidence in the late innings.
The loss of Brett Cecil to a torn calf muscle also compounds the strain on the bullpen. Not only was Cecil a fellow left-hander, he may have been the most dominant relief pitcher in all of Major League Baseball over the past two months. Now, all eyes are on David Price.
I’m not sure if I fully believe Gibbons here. Picture a late-game scenario where the Blue Jays are up 4-3 with a runner in scoring position and Prince Fielder at the dish. Fielder, who hit .343 off righties in 2015, is a daunting matchup despite his recent struggles. In that moment, or in one similar, won’t Gibbons be tempted to bring in the Cy Young candidate for one burst? He should consider it, at the very least.
Perhaps Roberto Osuna could see his usage altered in the late innings. If Stroman is able to deliver seven strong innings and a string of left-handed hitters are expected in the eighth, would Gibbons be so bold as to throw Osuna into the fire with six outs remaining and an insurance arm warming behind him? Ryan Tepera has some encouraging numbers against lefties this season, but is that the arm Toronto wants on the mound in a game of this magnitude?
It’s rare to see this many variables in a playoff bullpen, but real-world issues should forever take priority over a simple game. Gibbons has a great opportunity to tie a bow on top of a rather bizarre series later this afternoon, but he’ll need to do it shorthanded.
Next: Marcus Stroman: The return shall be legendary