Blue Jays: Who is the next rotation call-up after Nate Pearson?
With the organization’s top prospect, Nate Pearson, set to make his debut in 2020, who is the next pitcher to be called up if a member of the Toronto Blue Jays rotation goes down with an injury this season?
To begin the season, the Toronto Blue Jays have a pretty set rotation.
Newly acquired Hyun-Jin Ryu will slot in as the ace of the squad, with veterans Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker following behind Ryu. Chase Anderson, who is currently battling an oblique injury and will be on the injured list to begin the season, was also projected to join the rotation, with Trent Thornton most likely slotting in at spot number 5 (both Anderson and Thornton in the rotation could be up for debate though).
We all know by now that the Blue Jays #1 prospect, Nate Pearson, will make his debut sometime during the 2020 season. Once Pearson does make the starting rotation, one does wonder who is most likely to be next in line when it comes to a prospect making the rotation.
Right off the bat, younger/newer prospects like Alek Manoah and Simoen Woods-Richardson will most likely not be making the active roster in 2020 even though they are on the 60 man player pool. They will still be developing and honing their craft in the satellite camp, and we should expect to see them in a few years.
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Rotation vs. Bullpen
The Blue Jays also have a significant stack of pitchers that could also factor in either the rotation or into the bullpen if the organization chooses to go that route.
Pitchers such as Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather, Patrick Murphy, Joey Murray, and Hector Perez fit into this category, and will all most likely fit in as relievers rather than starters at the MLB level. Hatch, Merryweather, Murphy, and Murray have all been used as starters during their MiLB career, while Perez does have some experience as a reliever during his time with the Houston Astros and Toronto’s MiLB organizations.
Shun Yamaguchi also fits on this list, as he was used as both a starter and reliever during his time in Japan. In 14 seasons in the Nippon Baseball League, Yamaguchi has now transitioned to the MLB and did struggle to adjust during the 2020 spring training campaign. With the season beginning again, the Blue Jays seem to have Yamaguchi sliding into the bullpen rather than as a starter.
The Blue Jays could choose to keep some of these prospects as starters for depth purposes given that none of these players have advanced past AA, but the argument could be made to use them as bullpen pieces on the active roster moving forward (again, debate away).
The AAA Starters (if there was one this season)
Jacob Waguespack started 13 games for the Blue Jays last season and was in the mix to possibly secure the last rotation spot in spring training this year (before COVID-19). While he has shown some signs of being a competent major league starter, there are unfortunately just too many players ahead of him on the depth chart which could see him transition into the bullpen. I can see him move towards being a long man like Sam Gaviglio, with the occasional spot start here and there throughout a season, but as a member of the bullpen none the less.
Sean Reid-Foley is also another intriguing option in the rotation but is considered a wild card given how he has performed at the major league level. One of the Blue Jays more experienced prospects, SRF has started 13 games for the Blue Jays over the past two years but has never able to run away with a rotation spot when given the opportunity. He does have the potential to be a starter, but younger prospects might be given an opportunity before SRF, forcing him into the bullpen or staying in the satellite camp being stretched out as a starter.
Former 1st round selection T.J. Zeuch had a cup of coffee with the organization last year and was looking for a strong spring to help convince the Blue Jays organization that he deserves a chance for a roster spot. He will have some ground to make up as other prospects within the organization are starting to catch up to Zeuch, which could put him further down the depth charts then he already has fallen this year.
Another intriguing option is Ryan Borucki, who unfortunately missed most of the 2019 season with multiple injuries to his throwing elbow. Similar to Zeuch, Borucki was looking for a strong spring to help improve his chances of making the active roster, even though the signs were pointing for him to begin the season in AAA because of the time he missed last season.
Last but not least we have Anthony Kay, one of the pitchers who was acquired in the Marcus Stroman trade last year with the New York Mets. Kay had a chance to start some games late last season and was in the mix to make the roster out of spring training. In 3 games last season, Kay posted a 5.79 ERA which was heavily influenced by a 5 earned run outing against the New York Yankees in which he started.
If I was a betting man, I would say the odds are pretty close in that the Blue Jays will most likely call up either Anthony Kay or Ryan Borucki. Both are lefties with significant potential, but Borucki is coming back from a season of injuries to his throwing arm, giving Kay a possible advantage to make the rotation if the Blue Jays are trying to be conservative with Borucki’s innings.
Who do you think the Blue Jays will call upon if a member of the rotation goes down with an injury (assuming Pearson is already in the rotation)?