Blue Jays- “Next man up” as the injury bug continues to bite
It was bad enough that the Blue Jays had to put George Springer can on the IL on Wednesday, but now it looks like they’ll be without David Phelps as well.
The veteran right-hander has been outstanding in 2021, having posted a 0.87 ERA and a 1.161 WHIP over his first 11 appearances, covering 10.1 innings. He’s been used in several different high leverage situations, and has helped cover for the loss of Kirby Yates, as well as missed time for Jordan Romano earlier in the year. Unfortunately it looks like it might be the 34-year-old’s turn to sit on the sidelines.
For those that had already gone to bed, Phelps wasn’t even in the game last night when he had to come out due to injury. He was warming up on the mound ahead of the 8th inning, and immediately called for the trainer after throwing one of his warm-up pitches. As Sportsnet showed the replay, it didn’t look good at all. Phelps not only called for the trainer, but he grabbed at his elbow area of his throwing arm and looked to be in pain, which is never a good sign. I’m not going to attempt to give him a diagnosis for a large variety of reasons, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was going to be unavailable for quite a while, and we’ll see what happens once he undergoes some tests.
In the meantime the Blue Jays will have to keep utilizing the “next man up” strategy in the bullpen, and it won’t be easy to replace a weapon like Phelps. This might be the opportunity that Jordan Romano needs to reclaim a late-inning role with the club, or perhaps Charlie Montoyo will turn to Tyler Chatwood in the late innings a little more frequently, which would be fine based on his production.
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As for Phelps’ roster spot, if he is going to miss some time then there’s a good chance we’ll see A.J. Cole called up to the big league club. His minor league option is set to expire later this week (hat tip to @AdrianCrisostim for pointing this out to me yesterday), and he was a solid contributor in 2020, so it would make sense to give him a chance. If Phelps is going to be out for the long-term though, perhaps the Blue Jays will continue to scour the league for more bullpen options outside of what they have in the organization right now.
As for Springer being out again, it looks like the Blue Jays are content with the group of hitters they have for the time being, electing to bring Jonathan Davis back to the MLB roster to add some depth in the outfield. He’s a nice player to have around, but I was a little surprised that Rowdy Tellez didn’t get the call, especially on a day that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started as the DH. That might mean the Blue Jays want to see Tellez start raking in Triple-A before they bring him back, or perhaps it means the lefty slugger will have to wait for an injury in order to get another opportunity.
It was great to see the Blue Jays come back and earn their first win of the series in Oakland, but unfortunately it came at a cost with the loss of Phelps, adding to the pile of injuries they’ve had to navigate at this early stage in the year.