With the Blue Jays facing a couple injuries to their starting rotation, they may have to dip into their shallow minor league resources sooner than later, or, they could still add a free agent looking for a job.
The Toronto Blue Jays have experienced a series of blows to their rotation within the past 48 hours. On Sunday morning (April 16th) Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10 day disabled list with a blister injury. As of now, the injury does not appear to be something that will keep Sanchez sidelined for very long, after the visit to the hand specialist.
Fast forward a few hours on April 16th and J.A Happ left his start against the Baltimore Orioles with an injury to his elbow. Pitchers and elbow injuries are never a good mix. It remains to be seen what the diagnosis on Happ is, and the hope amongst everyone in Canada is that it is a minor injury. Happ had an MRI today (April 17th) but there has been no announcement as to the results.
The one roster move that was made involved reliever Matt Dermody being optioned back to AAA Buffalo after a terrible outing against Baltimore. The Blue Jays have said the corresponding move to Dermody’s option would be announced on Tuesday.
Ultimately, there is a bunch of uncertainty surrounding the 2/5ths of the Blue Jays rotation. Blister issues may seem like a minor thing, but as we’ve seen most recently with Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill, they could be something that never really goes away. As for Happ, it is impossible to speculate what the results of his injury will be, but with elbows they are almost never a good thing.
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Compounding the injuries to Happ and Sanchez, Josh Donaldson‘s lingering calf injury has him on the 10 day DL, all with the Blue Jays sitting at a dismal 2-10 record through the seasons first 2 weeks. Many fans are quite pessimistic and some are even throwing in the towel on the season. Throwing in the towel already is complete silliness. The Blue Jays are a much better team than what they’ve shown.
There is no point in diving into the offensive struggles. They simply haven’t hit outside of a few timely hits. A well placed base knock here or there and the record may not nearly be as bad. They will start to hit again, but it needs to happen soon or else the hole may become too big to dig themselves out of. Despite the blowout loss to the Orioles, the offense showed some signs of perhaps coming out of it. That remains to be seen, but there was a bit of hope.
The potential issue that would happen is if the rotation is dealt a blow like Happ being out for a significant amount of time. The Blue Jays do not have much depth beyond their fantastic 5 starters, which is worrisome. There are some decent stopgaps for a few turns through the rotation like Mat Latos, Mike Bolsinger, and Casey Lawrence, but they simply cannot afford to miss any of the 5 starters for an extended period of time. If Happ or Sanchez are out for an extended period, could the answer lie in the free agent market? I think it could, and that turns the attention directly to Doug Fister.
In a season where the Blue Jays could very well come back and get right back into contention, relying on depth starters to fill the 5th spot is not ideal. While they could get some useful spurts from some of their depth, a longer term solution that could handle 5+ turns through the rotation would be needed to still contend and come back from this hole.
Free agent Doug Fister remains the best starter on the current free agent market. Fister most recently started 32 games just a season ago for the Houston Astros. He wasn’t fantastic, but for a back end of the rotation type starter, his 1.1 fWAR plays. His season last year looked as follows:
- 180.1 IP, 12-13, 4.64 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 4.89 xFIP, 14.8 K%, 8.0 BB%
Fister isn’t a light up the radar kind of arm as evidenced by his 87.0 fastball velocity average just a season ago, but his 45.3 GB% would be nice at the Rogers Centre. He used to be much more of a ground ball machine earlier in his career with the Detroit Tigers, but he can still roll it up at a decent rate.
A lot remains to be seen about the status of J.A Happ and Aaron Sanchez and this whole article could become completely moot in the next few days. However, depending on what we hear, Doug Fister could become an option the Blue Jays strongly consider looking at.