Blue Jays: Who is the next man up in the rotation?
The Blue Jays are already dealing with two injuries to their starting rotation group. Without Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch, what does the depth chart look like?
That was already one of the bigger questions for the Jays to answer during the last two weeks of camp, and the injuries aren’t helping matters a whole lot. Fortunately, they have a fair amount of depth as far as starting pitchers go.
For now, the injury to Hatch may not have affected the Opening Day roster anyway, although he was seen to be fighting for the fifth starter’s job. That was especially the case after Nate Pearson had the initial injury to his groin, and even more so now that he’s re-aggravated the issue this week. Without the two young right-handers, the Blue Jays will likely start the year with a rotation that looks something like this:
1- Hyun Jin Ryu
2- Robbie Ray
3- Tanner Roark
4- Steven Matz
5- Ross Stripling
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It’s not an ideal place to be, but again, other than missing out on Pearson to start the year this was probably pretty close to the rotation Charlie Montoyo was going to be working with anyway. As I talked about last week, it’s even possible that Pearson’s slight delay could turn out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise, as it’ll help the Blue Jays manage his workload for 2021.
The bigger question for now is how the depth chart will be affected. Instead of Stripling and Hatch being available as the #6 and #7 starters, the strength of the system could be tested early if the two injuries drag on.
6- Anthony Kay
7- T.J. Zeuch
8- Trent Thornton
9- Julian Merryweather
10- Alek Manoah/Jacob Waguespack, etc
The Blue Jays should have the depth to manage a couple of injuries, but they’ll also hope to keep the rest of their starters healthy heading into the regular season schedule. Kay and Zeuch could likely both step into a starter’s role to begin the year, but I’m not sure the same could be said for Thornton and Merryweather, who may each need some time to build up their stamina. Waguespack went unclaimed when he was designated for assignment earlier this spring, but the Blue Jays would have to re-add him to the 40-man roster to carry him. As for Manoah, who has been fantastic during his Grapefruit League innings, I’m sure the Jays would prefer that he pitch most or even all of 2021 in the minor leagues.
It looks like Pearson’s injury troubles should be short-lived, and the Blue Jays will hope to receive good news about Hatch’s prognosis. For now, they will have to start thinking a little deeper into the depth chart.