After Aaron Sanchez was removed from the game on Friday night with a new blister issue, the Blue Jays’ rotation could be in some serious trouble.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since watching the 2016 version of the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s that pitching depth is really important. That team needed only seven starters to get through the 162 game season, and let’s just say that’s not how things usually go.
The Blue Jays’ rotation got some more bad news on Friday night when Charlie Montoyo had to remove Aaron Sanchez in the fourth inning. We don’t yet know how long Sanchez might be sidelined, but unfortunately he was taken out because of a blister issue on his pitching hand, which is a well-known issue for the talented starter.
That’s a major bummer for Sanchez and the Blue Jays for a number of reasons, but it’s also not good for the club in the immediate term. With the former AL ERA champion likely hitting the Injured List, he’ll join several others who are already there including Matt Shoemaker (out for the season), Clayton Richard (on a rehab assignment now), Clay Buchholz (forearm), and Ryan Borucki (has been out all season). That’s a full rotation of starters on the IL.
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The Blue Jays already made one move recently to help their rotation depth chart by acquiring Edwin Jackson from the Oakland A’s for cash considerations. The 35-year-old made his Blue Jays’ debut on Wednesday and became the MLB record holder for the most teams played for with 14. Jackson’s presence was needed before Sanchez had to be removed last night, and now looks even more important.
In fact, if you take a look at the rotation depth chart as of the 6th inning of last night’s game (the time of this writing), the only other healthy starters on the list are Marcus Stroman and Trent Thornton. They hadn’t announced a starter for Saturday’s game yet either, and with Sam Gaviglio having to cover for Sanchez on Friday, there aren’t enough arms to go through another “bullpen day”, or to use an “Opener”.
Ross Atkins and company may have to scour the league for another option like Jackson, if anyone is available. They could turn to their Triple-A depth, but right now there isn’t an obvious candidate to insert in the big league rotation. Sean Reid-Foley has struggled greatly with an 8.13 ERA in six starts, Jacob Waguespack has a 5.31 in eight starts, Jordan Romero has a 9.13 in three starts and eight appearances. The leading candidate other than eventually bringing back Thomas Pannone might be David Paulino‘s 5.09 ERA in four starts, but that’s far from ideal either.
The good news is that Richard should be healthy enough to help out soon, and hopefully the issues for Sanchez and Buchholz will be minor as well. If not though, Montoyo may have no choice but to use the “Opener” strategy with regularity, whether the fans like it or not.