Blue Jays announce multiple roster moves ahead of series against the Reds

Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Prior to the club's upcoming weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds, the Toronto Blue Jays have formally announced multiple roster moves. As Jays Journal reported earlier on Friday, relief pitcher Trevor Richards and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier have been activated from the injured list.

Getting Richards back is going to further strengthen a Blue Jays bullpen that's already one of the best in baseball. With a lethal combination of Erik Swanson, Jordan Hicks and Jordan Romano at the back end and hurlers like Tim Mayza and Yimi García filling in the gaps, this already excellent 'pen is about to get even deeper with the 30-year-old Richards' addition.

In 39 outings this season, the six-year veteran has a 1-1 record with a 2.98 ERA, 3.74 FIP and 141 ERA+. Along the way, he has 83 strikeouts in just over 54 innings (good for 13.7 K/9) and has dramatically improved the amount of hits and walks he surrendered last season.

Kiermaier coming back into the picture is every bit as important for the Blue Jays as Richards is. The 33-year-old has been an absolute monster in center field for the Jays this season, showing exactly why he's regarded as one of the best defenders out there in major league history. At the plate, he's been surprisingly productive as well; hitting five home runs with 27 RBI and 41 runs scored in 95 games. His .274 average and .750 OPS are the highest he's had in a single season since all the way back in 2017 with the Rays.

Going the other way is Jay Jackson and Nathan Lukes, who are both being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. The former has been a massive part of the aforementioned bullpen group this year and is going to be a top September call-up candidate in a few weeks. Prior to his outing against the Cubs on August 13, Jackson hadn't surrendered a single earned run in his last 13 outings dating all the way back to May 15. In a total of 18 appearances this season, Jackson has a 1.64 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just six walks in 22 innings of work.

Since Lukes was only brought up to the active roster to give the club an emergency outfielder in Kiermaier's absence, it's not exactly a shock to see him going back down to Buffalo to get consistent playing time. The 29-year-old rookie has spent the majority of his 2023 season on the big league bench, but has made it into just 28 games; smacking five base hits in 25 at-bats including a double and a triple. Down in the minor leagues, he has five home runs and a .978 OPS in just 29 games, walking more (13) times than he's struck out (10). Lukes has speed on the bases, is a decent slap-hitter and can play all three outfield positions at around an average clip, so it would not be a surprise to see him up in the big leagues again this season before all is said and done.