The 2017 MLB season will have some changes in the game that many fans don’t necessarily like very much.
The big one is the removal of the intentional walk or to a lesser extent, the fact that the MLB All-Star game no longer determines home-field advantage in the World Series. However, a rule change that all 30 teams in the MLB will really like and take advantage of is the new 10-day disabled list. The Toronto Blue Jays will be able to take advantage of this early on in 2017.
The Blue Jays currently have 4 players who have some injury concerns surrounding them heading into the season. Josh Donaldson is the least likely to require a 10 day DL stint to begin the season as he is progressing well from his calf injury. Steve Pearce hasn’t seen the field yet as he’s still waiting for clearance to play the field due to an off-season arm injury. These two likely won’t need to start the season on the DL barring any setbacks.
Glenn Sparkman suffered a freak injury when he broke a bone in his thumb taking fielding practice with the pitchers. He will likely need to start the season on the DL. The one player everyone is concerned about is Devon Travis. Travis’ knee injury has kept him off the field until Tuesday, March 14th when he was DHing in minor league baseball action. It is possible Travis will not be able to start the season in the Opening Day lineup.
The reason for this piece is to show how the Blue Jays can benefit from the switch from a 15 disabled list to 10 days, especially to start the season. Let’s start by looking at Glenn Sparkman.
The Blue Jays will surely be putting Sparkman on the DL. Sparkman was a rule 5 pick by the Blue Jays, which means he has to be on the 25 man roster or he would be returned to the Kansas City Royals.
Currently, the Blue Jays have Mike Bolsinger and Bo Schultz who are out of options to begin the season. If Sparkman was to start on the 10-day DL, Bolsinger and Schultz could start in the major league bullpen. Once Sparkman is ready, which will likely be longer than 10 days, the could DFA Bolsinger or Schultz or option an arm down to Buffalo to make room for Sparkman. That would sort out potential issues with contracts to start the season.
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If Devon Travis is not 100% to go for the start of the season, the Blue Jays would certainly opt for Travis to begin on the DL to not risk anything. With the assumption he would start the DL on April 2nd when the season begins, if he’s ready to come off the DL at the end of those 10 days, he would be ready for action the day after the Home Opener.
In those 10 days, they could keep Ryan Goins on the roster who is out of options, and then make a decision on Goins when Travis is ready. If Travis is not ready by then, he can just remain on the 10-day DL until he’s ready to go, keeping Goins around until the 2nd or 3rd week of the season.
There are many other ways in which the Blue Jays can take advantage of the 10-day DL. The Blue Jays rotation faces a few questions. One of those is Marco Estrada‘s back and how they will manage Aaron Sanchez. While the team has said the reigns are off of Sanchez, they will definitely monitor Sanchez’s innings.
If Estrada has any back issues or the team feels Sanchez needs a break in a rotation turn, the simple solution would be to stash them on the 10-day DL. They would miss 1 turn depending on how the schedule is broken down or 2 max. That would free up a roster spot for a depth starter. The skipping of a start to manage workload can be done for any of the 5 starters and it definitely will be used by not just the Blue Jays but all MLB teams if they feel it necessary.
The other way the Blue Jays can use the 10-day DL is to get some of the older position players off their feet. The likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin could benefit from a 10 day DL stint through the course of the season, especially because the DL spot will be locked up by Kendrys Morales.
Now, the team will not be stashing Tulowitzki or Martin or Donaldson on the 10-day DL just for the sake of rest. If any of these position players have a small nagging injury like a groin or calf, the decision to stash them on the 10-day DL will be easier than the 15.
With the injury concerns surrounding some key position players or the needs to manage the workload of a starter, you will see a difference in how teams use the DL. 10 days is not a long length of time, especially for a starter who needs to be skipped once or twice.
The first time you will see this seems likely to be surrounding Glenn Sparkman and the bullpen and Devon Travis and Ryan Goins. The Blue Jays will be able to use the 10-day DL to their advantage to start the season and throughout the season with the rotation and older position players.