The Toronto Blue Jays announced yesterday that starter Hyun Jin Ryu will be placed on the ten-day injured list (IL) with a right glute strain, another blow to the pitching corps that has been dealing with multiple injuries. He is currently scheduled to miss one start, with the team expecting him to be ready for next week’s series against the Oakland Athletics (as his injury is retroactive to April 26). With Ryu now heading to the IL, he joins a very crowded list that already hosts potential starting pitchers in Ross Stripling, Tom Hatch, T.J. Zeuch, and Nate Pearson.
Prior to last night’s game, the Blue Jays entered the game against the Nationals with a team ERA of 3.13, with members of both the starting rotation and bullpen pitching well out of the gate. Ryu and Robbie Ray both have ERA’s under 3.00 and Steven Matz has had a great start to the season but did have a rough outing yesterday against the Nationals, with relief pitchers Joel Payamps, Anthony Castro, Tyler Chatwood, David Phelps, and Tim Mayza leading the charge in the bullpen.
While the Blue Jays have been pitching well early this season, with multiple rotation arms going to be missing some time over the next week or two, the organization is going to have to look at their depth to find someone to step up and start a game or two to alleviate pressure off the bullpen.
The question is: who will step up?
Moved to the bullpen to begin the season, Trent Thornton has pitched well this season as both the long man and as a spot starter. In seven appearances so far this season, Thornton has pitched 12.0 innings and has given up four earned runs while striking out eight with three walks. His past two appearances have been as an opener, pitching roughly two innings before letting the bullpen take over for the rest of the game.
Thornton does have past experience as a starter and led the team back in 2019 in games started (29), innings pitched (154.1), and strikeouts (149), being the workhorse and innings eater that the franchise needed in a season that saw pitchers go down with injury or be shipped out of town. With some of the rotation arms down for the count, Thornton could be more useful for the Jays in the rotation over being in the bullpen for the time being.
Signed by the Blue Jays during Spring Training, Tommy Milone was the pitching depth the organization signed for just such an occasion.
A southpaw with over ten years of experience coming into 2021, Milone was called up to the Blue Jays when multiple relievers went down with injuries and has been used in a variety of different scenarios since joining the active roster. For his career, Milone sports a 4.56 ERA with 146 starts and 925.1 innings, striking out 704 with 221 walks and a 1.328 WHIP.
With his 9th major league team, the Blue Jays could choose to move Milone to a starter role considering he has started one game already this season as well as pitching behind Thornton (as an opener) and going 2+ innings when needed. His experience and ability to pitch multiple innings could put him ahead of some of the other options while the regular starters are on the mend.