Reports out of spring training indicate that Aaron Loup has been dealing with forearm soreness.
Aaron Loup threw again but “didn’t feel real good” per Gibbons. #BlueJays will assess his arm to determine next steps.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) March 3, 2016
What does this mean for the Blue Jays’ bullpen? The first thing is that when we hear that a player is complaining of “forearm” soreness, it is frequently revealed that he has a UCL injury and requires either extensive rehab or Tommy John surgery. Can we diagnose Aaron Loup’s injury from third-hand reports? Of course not. It could be just mild forearm soreness but usually when a pitcher is prevented from throwing or says he “didn’t feel good,” it’s a cause for concern. So if Aaron Loup isn’t able to answer the bell when the season starts, who stands to benefit?
The obvious answer is switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. Venditte made his major league debut last year with the Oakland A’s and was picked up by the Blue Jays on waivers back in October. Venditte has much better splits against left-handed hitters and, despite his 4.40 ERA last year, he had a very good 1.19 WHIP with 23 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. Even better are his numbers against left-handed hitters who hit just .116 against him. While Venditte has decent numbers throwing with his right hand, he was spectacular with the left.
It must be noted that Venditte is the only other “lefty” whom the Blue Jays have on their 40-man roster with all of the other bullpen pitchers (not counting Brett Cecil) being righties. Venditte also has options to burn but the fact that he can be so effective against lefties makes him the top choice to come in for Aaron Loup should he miss time.
Looking off the 40-man roster, there are several pitchers with major league experience who throw from the left side. These include Scott Diamond, Colt Hynes, Wade LeBlanc and Pat McCoy. LeBlanc has actually thrown in seven big league seasons from 2008 to 2014 and has a 4.47 ERA over 446 2/3 innings and is definitely not a speed king, averaging under 88 mph in 2014. McCoy is much younger, pitching for the Detroit Tigers in 14 innings in 2014. McCoy throws a two-seam fastball around 91 mph with an 83.5 mph slider. Diamond doesn’t throw hard either, with his last big league action in 2013, averaging 88.5 mph with his fastball. Finally, Hynes won’t light up the radar gun, averaging under 89 mph with his fastball.
Another option could be Chad Girodo. Girodo has been dominant in the minor leagues and throws in the low-90s. Girodo was a non-roster invitee to spring training and throws in the low 90s with outstanding movement. He is also extremely tough on lefites, limiting them to .096 batting average and a .123 slugging percentage. Should the Blue Jays need to dip into the minors for a second lefty (after Venditte), my money is on Girodo, particularly if he’s throwing well in Buffalo.
Besides a healthy Aaron Loup, who would you like to see step into the Blue Jays’ bullpen?
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