Blue Jays: Who goes to the bullpen when Stripling returns?
Acquired in a trade with the New York Mets this past off-season, southpaw Steven Matz had a great start to the season with the Blue Jays before getting hit around in May. He only surrendered six earned runs through his first four games before putting a six and a five-spot over his next two, inflating his ERA over the 4.00 mark, where he has consistently stayed all season.
On the season, Matz currently owns a 4.28 ERA through 20 starts and 101.0 innings pitched, striking out 104 batters with just 29 walks. Similar to Stripling, the former Mets pitcher has been pitching well as of late, surrendering only eight earned runs through five starts with one outing against the Red Sox in late July accounting for four of those. Yesterday against the Angels was a bit of a hit to his audition if you will, pitching only 4.2 innings with two earned runs and five strikeouts, although he did walk three batters.
Matz has a few games under his belt as a reliever, pitching out of the pen five times over his last two seasons with the Mets with over 127 appearances as a starter for his career. The Stripling injury does help his chances of staying in the rotation if:
- Stripling is out for an extended period of time
- Matz pitches well over the next few starts, putting him ahead of the right-hander
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently running with a six-man rotation due to the doubleheaders the team was going through as well as the addition of Jose Berrios. This begs the question, who goes to the bullpen if the club decides to return to a five-man rotation?
A name that many fans would most likely not want to see moved to the bullpen, right-hander Alek Manoah has been a force in the rotation since called up from AAA back in May.
Through ten starts, the former first-round pick has pitched very well for the Blue Jays, owning a 2.58 ERA with 60 strikeouts, 19 walks, and a 4-1 record through 52.1 innings. He has only surrendered 15 earned runs all season and has been one of the biggest surprises of the year and is arguably working his way into receiving some Rookie of the Year consideration.
The reason Manoah is on this list comes down to innings and potential innings limits, as the 6’6″ right-hander had only pitched 35.0 innings of minor league ball before his call-up to the Blue Jays roster due to the minor league season being shut down because of COVID-19 in 2020. The rookie pitcher did go to the alternate training site to get reps in but it would not be surprising if the organization has him on an innings limit this season with how clubs use analytics to protect their star prospects.
I personally disagree with Manoah moving to the bullpen because of how well he is pitching but also if he is still feeling good and healthy, he should continue to start games. If he becomes fatigued or starts to struggle, then the club can make necessary changes but one cannot forget that Manoah did pitch 108.1 innings in his junior year at West Virginia University before being drafted, so he can go the distance when called upon.
Something to think about.