With the MLB season being delayed due to the COVID-19 virus, the time off could allow some of the Toronto Blue Jays pitchers to get healthy and improve upon their rough spring outings.
The COVID-19 virus has been detrimental to the Toronto Blue Jays and the entire MLB, canceling spring training and postponing the start of opening day to a date that isn’t even determined yet. While this has been a rough time for both the fans and players, the battle in the Blue Jays rotation could become even more fierce when the season does resume in the near future.
The Blue Jays have four dedicated pitchers for the rotation in 2020, with newly acquired Hyun-Jin Ryu leading the charge, followed by Tanner Roark, Matt Shoemaker, and Chase Anderson. That leaves one spot open in the rotation for a host of internal candidates.
Thornton was an inning eater last season for the Blue Jays, leading the team in innings pitched in his first season in the major leagues. He would start 29 games for the Jays last season, striking out 149 batters while giving up 61 walks and throwing to a 4.84 ERA and a 1.406 WHIP.
Anthony Kay started in only 2 games for the Blue Jays last season, pitching to a 5.79 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 5 walks when he was called up during the September roster expansion. While he only pitched a few innings in the big leagues, Kay was banking on a strong spring training to help him move into the 5th spot of the rotation before it was canceled.
Shun Yamaguchi was a wild card added into the mix this off-season after a successful career as both a starter and a reliever in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He was having a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the MLB at the start of the spring but was hitting his stride just before everything was shut down.
Each of these three pitchers could have found themselves into the rotation plans if the season started in late March, but with the league on a hiatus, the battle gets a bit more complicated. Not only will these pitchers have to really adjust to not having a proper spring training to compete and get ready for the last spot, but they will also now have to compete with increased competition.
Enter Ryan Borucki.
The ‘Trent Thornton’ of 2018, Borucki was also the inning eater type of pitcher that the Blue Jays needed when injuries struck the starting rotation. Last season was difficult for Borucki, as elbow issues derailed most of his season and limited him to only two starts.
He was also starting 2020 on a sour note, as he was experiencing some issues with the same elbow once again and was going to start the season in AAA before the virus moved opening day. With this extended date, Borucki will most likely recover from his elbow injury before the new season starts and could now factor into the fifth rotation spot battle.
With the 2020 season already being delayed, the Toronto Blue Jays rotation picture gets a bit more murky as to who will win the last spot. With Thornton, Kay, Yamaguchi, and Borucki all likely fighting for a spot in the MLB rotation, it will be exciting to see who wins the final spot and whether they will be able to keep it for the entire season.