The Blue Jays started the year with a lot of injury questions around their pitching staff, but the news has been very positive all around this week.
While nothing is going to change any time soon for Kirby Yates, who had season-ending elbow surgery, the rest of the injured Blue Jays pitchers might be back sooner than later.
The first one to hit the sidelines this spring was Nate Pearson, who has been dealing with a groin injury for the better part of a month now. He actually had re-aggravated the injury a few weeks ago, but according to GM Ross Atkins, he’s now pain and symptom free.
The same goes for Thomas Hatch, who I personally feared was lost for the season when he left the mound last month. It was one of those moments that gave you a bad feeling in your stomach as he left the mound, but it sounds like he’s avoided serious injury as well, which is great news.
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The third hurler on the mend is Robbie Ray, who bruised his elbow in a bit of a freak accident at his home. His situation was never reported to be a serious one, but his name was included with Pearson and Hatch’s while Atkins discussed the latest injury updates with the media on Friday.
All three pitchers could provide a boost to the Blue Jays pitching staff once they return. Both Pearson and Ray will be slated to join the rotation once they’re ready, and Hatch could either do the same, pitch out of the bullpen, or report to Triple-A and provide some valuable depth wherever he’s needed. That’s probably the most likely scenario for Hatch at the moment, but a lot can change in a few weeks.
Once they’re able to return then Atkins will have some decisions to make with the 26-man roster. It’s possible that the likes of T.J. Zeuch or Joel Payamps could be sent to Buffalo in order to make room, or maybe the Jays return one or both of Trent Thornton or Julian Merryweather to build up their stamina in order to be starting pitchers. After a gem of an Opening Day save from the latter it’s hard to imagine Merryweather going anywhere right now, but one game probably won’t change any long-term plans.
For a pitching staff that looked like it was in a bit of trouble, the news has been pretty good for the Blue Jays over the last few days. Here’s hoping they can stay healthy and get the best version of this group. They might just surprise a lot of people if they do.