The Toronto Black and Blue Jays enter game four with some injury limitations already in place. Brett Cecil‘s calf tear has taken away the Blue Jays’ most vital reliever, while lingering shoulder and finger injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion are here to stay.
While a blister or cracked nail is little more than a nuisance to you or I, it’s a huge impediment to a Major League pitcher. Especially one that throws with high velocity. Jeff Blair of Sportsnet had reported prior to game three that Osuna was not certain in his ability to throw his slider with that cracked nail, and entering tonight’s game, there’s cause for concern that these two will be working with a limited repertoire.
This is made all the more difficult by the options surrounding Sanchez and Osuna. (Crickets…). Mark Lowe has been the most reliable option behind the back-end duo, and is likely to be called upon again at some point today.
Left fielder Ben Revere is also dealing with a back injury, but it does not appear to be all that serious. He appeared to notice something pull when he reached first base in game three on an infield hit. Revere has been looking a bit lost at the plate and atop the lineup, so the Blue Jays will need him clicking on all cylinders ahead of the big bats.
There also came this update today from Michael Grange on Jays lefty Mark Buehrle. It’s been a jolting change for the veteran, being left off the playoff roster after a decade and a half of being the game’s most consistent pitcher. “It sucks,” he told Grange.
“Hopefully we can win this round, and I don’t want to be put on for the next round because that means someone gets hurt. But if something happens and we make it to the World Series and someone’s not pitching good or they want to switch things up for some reason and I’m the guy they want to put on there, I’ll be ready to go.”
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If the Jays can reach the World Series, the potential return of Cecil makes it even more unlikely that Buehrle would see time, especially given the recent health of his shoulder and his inability to warm quickly as a reliever would need to. There’s a quote from manager John Gibbons worth highlighting, though, that shows the immense respect he has for the Buehrle.
“He’s one of my all-time favourites I ever managed,” Gibbons said. “It really still haunts me to this moment him not getting his 200 innings this year and that will haunt me forever. It was an unbelievable run.”
Buehrle is taking it like a professional, though, as we all should expect. He’s even looking to carve out a new role. “I’m doing what I can to cheer the team on,” he joked. “If they get in a fight I’m charging the field trying to be a bodyguard or a bouncer to make sure other guys don’t get kicked out.”