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Blue Jays: Notable names on and off the Wild Card roster

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Santiago Espinal #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays at second base during game one of a doubleheader baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 5, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Santiago Espinal #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays at second base during game one of a doubleheader baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 5, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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At 10:00 am EST both the Mariners and the Blue Jays had to submit and confirm their Wild Card 26-man rosters for the three-game set. While there is a no bombshells on who is and is not on the roster, there are some notable players missing and added on.

The first most notable player that is on the roster is utility infielder Santiago Espinal.  The 2022 All-Star has not played since September 21 but there was speculation throughout this last week that he was getting close to returning and the team had hoped he would be able to suit up in the Baltimore Orioles series.

Espinal had an impressive start to the season when he took over as the Blue Jays second basemen and was producing at the plate, posting a slash line of .271/.320/.391 with 27 extra-base hits over his first 325 at-bats that led to him being selected as an All-Star Game replacement.  Unfortunately for Espinal, he was not able to keep up his strong start and had been hitting just .232 with only three extra-base hits from August 18 until he went down with his injury.  Accompanied by Whit Merrifield’s reemergence, Espinal will likely be used in a bench role off the bench.

The biggest loss from the roster is that of Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who has been out now for a month with a hamstring injury he sustained running out a ball to first base.  Gurriel’s power numbers had dropped drastically this year, however, he was still consistently getting on base and had a career-high 32 doubles when he went down with his injury.  Raimel Tapia will continue to be Gurriel’s replacement in left field and he has done an admiral job of late.  Over his last 14 games, Tapia has posted a slash line of .308/.333/.481 with five extra-base hits including a pair of triples.  While Tapia is not at the level of Gurriel for hitting, it is not a drastic drop-off that would cause concern.

Friday afternoon, the Blue Jays announced their Wild Card Series roster and while they are getting Santiago Espinal back, Lourdes Gurriel Jr remains injured.

I was hoping the team was going to add Gabriel Moreno to the roster and they did just that.  Manager John Schneider has been keeping both Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk in the line-up as the catcher and designated hitter so the team needs the insurance of having another catcher on the bench.

The catching duo has combined for 29 home runs and 107 RBI in 2022 and while Kirk has been one of the most consistent hitters over the entire season, Jansen has gone to a new level since the calendar turned over to September.

He has posted a slash line of .333/.418/.590 with 12 extra-base hits and 14 RBI while walking as much as he is striking out (13:16).  It is highly unlikely Moreno will get into any games in the series and will be used primarily in case a catcher gets injured or as a potential pinch runner/defensive replacement, but he allows Schneider to keep both in the line-up with added insurance.  Moreno proved he can hit with the Blue Jays, as the team’s top prospect went 5 for 8 including his first career home run over his last three games.

The two players that were on the roster of recent that will not be in the Wild Card Series are Bradley Zimmer and Mitch White.  Zimmer has shown that he is good defensively and was used often to either give one of the regulars some late-inning rest or an upgrade defensively in close games the team was winning.  Schneider won’t be looking to rest any of his players and has Jackie Bradley Jr to take over if the club needs a defensive replacement.

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White was acquired at the trade deadline and was given the fifth spot in the rotation and unfortunately struggled.  Over his last seven appearances, he posted an 0-4 record with one blown save and had a 9.71 ERA.  It is likely he will go into Spring Training next season with an opportunity to regain the fifth spot and if not will likely take on a similar role that Trent Thornton had this season.

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