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Blue Jays: How to line up the rotation after the All-Star break

Jul 9, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo (25) comes to mound to take out Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah (6) during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo (25) comes to mound to take out Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah (6) during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays have four days off before the second half gets underway, and it will give Charlie Montoyo a chance to strategically line up his rotation coming out of the break.

While fans and writers will debate the rankings of a rotation, that really won’t be much of a determining factor for Montoyo as he makes this decision, at least it shouldn’t be. In all, the rotation has been a pleasant surprise this season, especially over the last two months, and the skipper has a few different ways he could go and several variables to consider.

I wrote last week about how the Blue Jays should use the All-Star break as an opportunity to give Hyun Jin Ryu an extended rest, and I still believe that would be a wise decision. He last pitched on Wednesday the 7th, and holding him until the second series after the break would give him roughly two weeks off. It would also save Ryu for an important games with the Red Sox, which come after a three-game set against the Rangers to kick off the second half.

You can’t look too far ahead, even if the Blue Jays start the second half schedule against the 35-54 Rangers. That said, I think you do have to consider that the Red Sox are coming right after those first three games, and make choices with that in mind. With that said, here’s how I would line things up if the decision were up to me:

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16th vs. Rangers– Robbie Ray
17th vs. Rangers– Alek Manoah
18th vs. Rangers– Steven Matz

19th vs. Red Sox– Ross Stripling
20th vs. Red Sox– Hyun Jin Ryu
21st vs. Red Sox– Ray

23rd vs. Mets– Manoah
24th vs. Mets– Matz
25th vs. Mets– Stripling

26th vs Red Sox– Ryu
27th vs. Red Sox– Ray
28th vs. Red Sox– Manoah
29th vs. Red Sox– ???

I know I said you can’t think too far ahead when making decisions, but there’s a fair bit of thinking behind what I’ve laid out here. To start with, Ryu would get the rest that I’ve already talked about, and holding him back until the 5th game would line him up against the Red Sox for both important series in July. He’s had some ups and downs in 2021, but he’s still the staff ace and someone you want on the mound in important games against the division leaders.

I toyed with the idea of giving Robbie Ray more time off in my game plan here, but he could pitch on normal rest in the first game of the second half, and this configuration would get him on the mound for two starts against the Red Sox as well. He’s arguably been the best pitcher on the team in 2021, and the Blue Jays need him to continue to perform at that level if they’re going to make a playoff push. This configuration also gives Manoah just one start against each of the Rangers, Mets, and Red Sox. In theory that will give those teams less time to adjust to the talented young right-hander, and will allow him to focus on what he does best.

The one hole I’ve left above is on the 29th, and in a lot of ways I hope that question mark pops up sooner. It would be Matz’s turn in the rotation in this scenario, but by then I’m also hoping the Blue Jays can acquire an upgrade. They’re going to be in tough if they want to take a shot at the division or even a Wild Card spot, but there is a lot of talent on this Blue Jays roster, and plenty of reasons to believe they can have a big second half. That series with the Red Sox could be a crucial one, and considering it comes at the deadline, hopefully the reinforcements will have arrived by then.

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We’ll see how Montoyo ultimately lines things up, but it shouldn’t be as simple as rolling out your best starters in order. With that in mind, look for the skipper to get creative with his rotation after the All-Star break.

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