The Blue Jays made a series of roster moves on Sunday, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The club has optioned pitchers Brock Stewart and Justin Shafer, allowing for the activation of Clay Buchholz from the injured list and Ken Giles from the paternity list. In addition, right-hander Nick Kingham has been designated for assignment.
Buchholz last pitched for the Jays on May 5, before a shoulder strain forced him onto the 60-day injured list and kept him out of commission for more more than three months. After completing a rehab assignment in which he made three starts, the veteran will rejoin the Toronto rotation in time to start Sunday’s game. He’ll certainly face some restrictions in his workload as he works back into Major League action; his pitch count maxed out at 67 during his rehab.
After a resurgent season in Arizona last year, Buchholz hasn’t gotten much of a chance to ingratiate himself to the Toronto organization, having made just five starts with his new club. However, that five-game sample hasn’t given the Blue Jays much to be optimistic about, as Buchholz has managed to strike out just 4.4 batters per nine innings, fueling an unimpressive 5.67 FIP. Regardless, he’ll have just over a month to straighten things out and make good on the $3MM contract he earned last winter.
Giles, meanwhile, will return to the Toronto bullpen after a few days away from the game. He’s been far and away the Jays’ most reliable pitcher, enjoying his best season since he was traded out of Philadelphia. In 40 innings this year, he’s posted a 1.80 ERA while striking out batters at a career-best rate. While the 29-year-old, who can be a free agent after next season, may not be a part of the promising Blue Jays’ future plans, he certainly provides a boon to a club that has turned some heads with its young core.
27-year-old Kingham has been on the injured list since early August owing to a strained oblique, and will now be removed from Toronto’s 40-man in favor of Buchholz. While he could remain in the organization, he’ll first need to pass through waivers. He’s already done that once this year, when the Pirates designated him and later traded him to the Blue Jays. Despite his outwardly impressive 3.00 ERA in Toronto, most indicators suggest that Kingham’s performance is roughly in line with the poor numbers that earned him a ticket out of Pittsburgh.
After more than three seasons bouncing between the ranks of the Dodgers organization, Stewart now finds himself doing more of the same, only now with Toronto. Since joining the Jays, he’s already been optioned several times, though he’s shown himself to be a serviceable long-man for the starter-thin Blue Jays. Shafer, for his part, has been a solid bullpen choice for a Toronto organization that has shuttled seemingly dozens of relievers into and out of the Major League bullpen. The 26-year-old has struck out 29 batters in 31 innings, though he has had trouble keeping the walks in check, surrendering 22 free passes for an average of 6.4 per nine innings pitched.