Toronto Blue Jays: If the playoff roster were up to me

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate a 11-5 win against the New York Yankees at Sahlen Field on September 21, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to their stadium situation and the Canadian government's policy on the coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate a 11-5 win against the New York Yankees at Sahlen Field on September 21, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to their stadium situation and the Canadian government's policy on the coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
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Assuming the Blue Jays can hang on to their post-season spot, which players should fill out the 26-man roster for the first round of the playoffs?

Ahead of their latest loss to the Yankees, the Blue Jays revealed the players that will make up their 40-man player pool for the post-season.

As Buck Martinez and Dan Shulman described on last night’s broadcast, these players will enter into more strict protocol effective immediately, and they will enter a post-season bubble in much the same vein as the NBA has done. All that said, the Blue Jays still have to qualify in order to get there, but at least we know which players will make up the roster.

Instead of just talking about the options, I’d like to present how I would make up the 26-man roster for the opening round if the decision were up to me. There are plenty of choices that are fairly obvious, but Charlie Montoyo and the coaching staff will have some difficult decisions to make. Things could still change over the last five games, but for the moment here’s how I’d fill out the roster.

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Catchers (2)

Danny Jansen
Alejandro Kirk

While it’s a lot to ask of Kirk to step into a post-season game at just 21 years old, he hasn’t looked phased by his early opportunities. Given the way that other catching options like Jansen and Reese McGuire have performed at the plate this year, it’s not hard to envision Kirk getting a few starts and then being replaced on defence by Jansen later in the game.

Infielders (7)

Bo Bichette
Cavan Biggio
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Joe Panik
Jonathan Villar
Travis Shaw
Santiago Espinal

There’s a good chance that there’s one less infielder when the Blue Jays submit their roster, but again, this is about how I’d do things, not what I think they’ll do. If it were up to me, I’d include Santiago Espinal on roster, which would give the Blue Jays another option with some speed, and plenty of versatility. That could be even more important to the infield if Biggio has to move to the outfield at all, or if Shaw can’t get healthy enough to play in the post-season, as he was scratched ahead of Tuesday’s game with back spasms.

The wild card will be if Rowdy Tellez can be available, and even if it’s only as a pinch hitter, I think the Blue Jays have to carry him on the roster even if he doesn’t get many or even any tune up at-bats. His inclusion would make a 7th infielder make sense, and the same goes for if Vlad Jr. is used at DH.

Outfielders (4)

Teoscar Hernandez
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Randal Grichuk
Jonathan Davis

I’ve left the outfield a little thin, but with Biggio’s ability to shift around they should be just fine. In fact, I suspect that as long as all three as healthy, the trio of Gurriel Jr., Hernandez, and Grichuk will likely start every game. Davis could provide a valuable defensive upgrade, and a threat as a pinch runner.

Starting Pitchers (4)

Hyun-Jin Ryu
Taijuan Walker
Matt Shoemaker
Robbie Ray

The most obvious choice on Montoyo’s checklist is his Game 1 starter, which will be Ryu. After that they’re currently lined up to have Walker pitch Game 2, and if things go well for Shoemaker on Saturday in his second start since returning from the IL, I suspect he’ll be the Game 3 starter. If they need one and don’t want to go back to Ryu for a Game 4 in a later series, I’d give the ball to Robbie Ray in that case, and have a long-relief arm ready if he’s more Hyde than Jekyll.

Relief Pitchers (9)

Anthony Bass
Rafael Dolis
A.J. Cole
Ryan Borucki
Thomas Hatch
Anthony Kay
Nate Pearson
Ross Stripling
Shun Yamaguchi

This is probably the area that would be most up for debate, although the health of their relievers will play a big part. For example, if Jordan Romano can get healthy enough to contribute then he’ll be included, as would likely be the case for Julian Merryweather, although both could be a long shot for the first round.

I do think that Nate Pearson will be back, and yesterday I wrote about how I think he could help at the back of the bullpen, joining Bass, Dolis, and even Cole. They have a pair of left-handed options with Kay and Borucki they could roster, and Hatch has been mostly good this year, even if he struggled last night. Stripling and Yamaguchi could pitch some important innings in a lopsided game. It’s entirely possible the Jays go with 10 relievers as well, and that last spot would likely come down to Chase Anderson or Tanner Roark for a similar purpose. There would not be a spot for Wilmer Font on my roster.

Next. Jansen may be in tough for playing time. dark

Obviously the health of guys like Romano, Merryweather, and Tellez could change things, but for now this is how I’d line things up for Round One. What would you change?

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