Following the loss of starter Hyun-Jin Ryu to season-ending surgery and some recent wobbles in the bullpen with injuries to Trevor Richards and Julian Merryweather, and Ryan Borucki DFA’d, who might the Blue Jays acquire by the trade deadline for starting pitching and relief depth?
Absent Ryu, the Blue Jays likely need another starter given Yusei Kikuchi has been ineffective, with the team 4-9 in his 13 starts that have averaged less than 4 1/3 innings per outing. That taxes the bullpen, as we saw yesterday with Adam Cimber called on with the Jays down 3-2 in the fifth inning when he’s normally used in the 7th or 8th innings.
With long reliever Ross Stripling now taking a regular turn in the rotation, and Richards being unreliable and also on the IL right now, bullpen depth is also an issue, especially given MLB rosters will be limited to only 13 pitchers as of today. In addition to limited options in the minor league system, who knows when Stripling might turn into a pumpkin as a starter?
So while the Blue Jays would appear to be set up with an excellent playoff rotation of Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and Jose Berríos, they still need to get through the remaining 96 games left to play in the regular season, which would be 38 more turns in the rotation by the fourth and fifth starters assuming no further injuries.
High leverage playoff innings could be handled by Adam Cimber, David Phelps, Yimi Garcia, Tim Mayza and Jordan Romano, but what about depth arms and long relief until October? Are Trent Thornton, Trevor Richards, Julian Merryweather and Matt Gage confidence-inspiring options? Nate Pearson, who many pundits have had high hopes for as a potential bullpen arm, exited after throwing just two pitches on Sunday afternoon for Buffalo with right shoulder discomfort.