Blue Jays: Top 5 Reasons to be Excited for Spring Training (eventually)
#4: Position Battles
Like every Spring Training before, certain spots on the team still need to be decided. This is done by trying the players out in a particular role and seeing who performs better. A variety of these situations exist for the Blue Jays at this point in time, with more sure to come as more acquisitions are made after the lockout ends.
These battles begin with the starting rotation. The top four out of five arms will no doubt include Berrios, Gausman, Ryu, and Alek Manoah. The fifth spot remains up for grabs, and as it stands on the roster there are five men available for the job. This includes Ross Stripling, Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, Nate Pearson, and Trent Thornton. Stripling enters camp as the most likely, as his 101.1 innings was the most by far amongst these five pitchers, with the next closest being 49 innings from Thornton. Stripling is also the most experienced, with more total major league innings than the others combined. Despite that experience, a competition will no doubt still be held, as pitchers like Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch have a future ahead of them with Toronto.
The bullpen is always in a state of flux with big league rosters and the Blue Jays are no exception. Guys like Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Trevor Richards, Adam Cimber, and newcomer Yimi Garcia are all essentially locks to make the bullpen out of camp. However, minor league options and minor league contracts also have a hand in forming a bullpen. Arms such as Julian Merryweather and Ryan Borucki are out of options and cannot be sent to AAA, while veterans like David Phelps are on minor league deals trying to crack the roster. A lot still must be decided for the bullpen before Spring Training concludes.
Lastly, there are numerous players on the bubble when it comes to position players. Kevin Smith, Josh Palacios, Reese McGuire, and Otto Lopez among others could help the big league team at some point this season, but don’t have any guarantees of making it out of camp.
Position battles offer incentive to players getting a chance in Spring Training, and always add value to the experience of watching these games.