The Blue Jays have designated left-hander Ryan Borucki for assignment and recalled righty Trent Thornton from Triple-A Buffalo, per a club announcement.
Now 28 years old, Borucki is a 2012 fifteenth-rounder who bolstered his stock with strong minor league production and earned his way to a big league debut in 2018. He impressed during that rookie season, too, looking the part of a potential rotation piece for years to come. Through his first 97 2/3 frames, Borucki notched a a 3.87 ERA with solid walk (8%) and ground-ball (46.8%) rates. His 16.1% strikeout rate was well south of the league average, but Borucki at least looked like a possible fourth or fifth starter whom the Jays could control for the foreseeable future.
Elbow troubles torpedoed Borucki’s 2019 season, however, depriving him of the chance to really build on that strong debut campaign. He avoided Tommy John surgery but nevertheless endured a lengthy shutdown period following tightness in his elbow. Borucki eventually had a cleanup procedure to remove multiple bone spurs from that elbow, which ultimately ended his season.
Borucki made just two starts during that 2019 season, and those proved to be his final two starts with the team. He was moved to the bullpen in 2020, where he fanned 28.8% of his opponents through 16 2/3 innings but also issued walks at an alarming 16.4% clip. That walk rate dropped to a more manageable (but still elevated) 11.2% in 2021, and but Borucki’s strikeout rate also dropped precipitously, falling to 21.4%.
This season, Borucki has been rocked for seven runs in his first 6 1/3 innings of work. On the whole, since moving to the bullpen, Borucki has a 4.82 ERA with a 24.5% strikeout rate against an ugly 13.7% walk rate. He’s absolutely overwhelmed left-handed opponents since moving to the bullpen and has generally been effective against them his whole career (.204/.282/.288). Right-handed opponents, however, have mashed at a .281/.361/.477 pace against Borucki.
Toronto will have a week to trade Borucki, attempt to pass him through outright waivers or release him. The fact that he’s out of minor league options and earning an $825K salary after avoiding arbitration this past winter give him a better chance to pass through waivers than the standard pre-arb lefty with options remaining. Still, left-handed pitching depth is always in demand, and a lefty with some success in the past plus a 95.2 mph average velocity on his sinker could well hold appeal as a change-of-scenery candidate.