I know I’m a little late to party writing about the Blue Jays’ plans to replace Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ‘s spots in the starting rotation this weekend, but hey, winter tires don’t get removed and taxes don’t get done by themselves. The Blue Jays announced that they would reach down to Buffalo and call Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence up to the big leagues at least for a start.
Over the weekend, I hypothesized about who would take Sanchez’s spot in the rotation and, with the elbow soreness to J.A. Happ, it turned out that there are two pitchers who needed to be replaced. If I may indulge myself for a moment, I wrote “I think Mat Latos would be the dark horse to get the first shot at the rotation.” and followed that with “Casey Lawrence would be 1A to get the call. Being on the 40-man roster could be the ace up his sleeve that gets him back to Toronto.”
I’m rarely so right about my predictions for anything that I’ll take a moment to gloat about the perfection of my prediction.
Ok, I’m done with the gloating and here’s why these choices make sense, if only from an organizational point of view. With two starters to replace, the Jays were going to have to make a move that would affect their 40-man roster. Casey Lawrence, the only starting pitcher in Buffalo who is on the 40-man roster, would almost certainly be called up to take one of the two starts.
The other start was probably going to come down to Mike Bolsinger (unlikely in my view), T.J. House, Mat Latos and Jarrett Grube. As I wrote in that earlier column, I think that there were probably some backroom agreements made between the Blue Jays and Mat Latos when he was informed that he wouldn’t start the season with the big league club. He chose to forego his opt out at the end of spring training and join the Buffalo Bisons, waiting for an opportunity just like this one to get back to the majors. If the Blue Jays had bypassed Latos, it’s likely that he would have opted out at his next opportunity and left the club with a bad taste in his mouth. At least this way, Latos will get a shot and the Blue Jays will get a look at him in the major leagues. He’s been pretty good in Buffalo but, as we all know, there’s no league like the majors and it’s time to see what he’s got.
Latos will need a roster move to make a 40-man spot available for him. Who goes? My money is on Dalton Pompey getting moved to the 60-day DL. Another option would be catcher Luke Maile getting designated for assignment but the Jays just sent another catcher, Juan Graterol, to the very Angels whom they’ll be playing this weekend for cash or a player to be named later. It could also be a pitcher but my gut tells me that the Jays aren’t quite ready to lose another player and the easiest way to do it is to move Pompey to the 60-day.
This thought process brings down the road a bit to after Latos’s start. If he does the job, the Jays can keep him in the rotation until Happ and Sanchez are ready to go and then move him to the bullpen. If he’s not good, the Jays are going to be on the hook for the remainder of Latos’s $1.5 million contract. There are a few options to them: they can release him, or stash him in the bullpen for a bit, hopefully getting some good innings there to make him more palatable for a trade. I mean the Jays managed to pick up Jesse Chavez last year, so why wouldn’t there eventually be a market for Latos?
Moving on to the Casey Lawrence train of consciousness, it seems that no one’s noticed that he hasn’t thrown more than three innings in a game since spring training, meaning that unless he’s really efficient with his pitches (which is certainly a possibility sine Lawrence is a ground-ball pitcher), he’s not going more than four innings for the Jays. That means that the bullpen will need to be rested and on their toes in order to provide five (or more) innings of relief. That’s not necessarily the most encouraging thought, especially since it will come on the heels of tonight’s Latos start, a start by a guy who hasn’t been a innings-eating horse of a pitcher in the major leagues since he was injured in 2014. Let’s just say that I hope the Jays are flying a bullpen guy or two out to California to be on call to go a few innings on Saturday.
So those are a few of my thoughts about the pitching for this weekend. It’s going to be interesting no matter what happens but let’s hope that the Jays grab a couple of wins!
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