Earlier today, it was reported by Sportsnet’s Arash Madani that Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ threw off of flat ground yesterday (May 2rd) at Yankee Stadium. However, there is still no timetable for the return of the left-hander, which could become a bigger problem than originally feared for the club.
The news for other starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez is better. Sanchez will throw this weekend off a mound in Tampa when the Blue Jays go face the Tampa Bay Rays. Depending on how Sanchez’s nail responds, Sanchez could be back in the rotation as soon as the next homestand next week. The lack of real news as to what is wrong with J.A. Happ is somewhat concerning though.
Happ has been injured since he left the ball game on Sunday, April, 11th against the Baltimore Orioles. The injury was described as left elbow inflammation. Elbow injuries regardless of the nature of them are scary. It is always the worst fear of pitchers, coaches, executives and fans.
The injury to J.A Happ was originally described as not too serious and that he could be back in a few turns through the rotation. Happ has thrown a few sessions off of flat ground. One didn’t go exceptionally great and was even considered as a setback. There have been other times he’s thrown on the last homestand against Tampa, but nothing was reported. The only other reported throwing session was yesterday.
Toronto commentator Dan Shulman went on the Jeff Blair show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on the morning of May 3rd and stated his concern that there has virtually been no news at all or even chatter on the Happ injury front. Shulman mentioned concern over the fact that the MRI could not locate the real source of the pain, which is also a concern.
Based on the way the Blue Jays have kept quiet on the J.A. Happ injury front combined with the report today from Arash Madani, it really does not seem like we will be seeing Happ anytime soon. That begs the question of ‘what do they do with the 5th starters spot?
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The Blue Jays have limited depth in their minor league system. As I wrote yesterday, I would imagine that T.J. House would be next in line for a start on May 9th. Mat Latos, who got rocked on Tuesday night, had his locker cleaned out on Wednesday, but it is not because he was sent packing. Latos is dealing with a family issue and will join the Blue Jays in Tampa over the weekend.
It appears that Latos will be back for at least one more start on Sunday in Tampa Bay. That would likely be his final audition. If Sanchez is able to make it back for a turn in the rotation and hopefully stay in the rotation, it will be between Latos and others for who continues to start while Happ is out.
In terms of options beyond Latos and House, there is Mike Bolsinger and others. However, the discussion Dan Shulman had with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt brought up the possibility of Joe Biagini or Ryan Tepera starting a game or two. That does seem unlikely, but the search for stability could bring them to that possibility.
It does seem as if we won’t be seeing J.A Happ back with the Blue Jays any time soon. If that is the case, look for a continuous shuffle for stability in the 5th starters spot.
Personally, I would be surprised if J.A. Happ is back before June. I hope that is not the case. All we can do for now is try not to get too worked up over the lack of chatter combined with staying tuned for more news on the Happ front.