- With Matt Shoemaker down for the season due to an ACL tear, the Blue Jays are weighing options to replace him in the rotation, writes Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star. The top traditional starting pitching candidates look to be righty Sam Gaviglio (who made 24 starts for Toronto a year ago), lefty Thomas Pannone, right-hander Sean Reid-Foley and right-hander Jacob Waguespack. However, the Jays could also more creatively look to deploy an opener — a strategy with which skipper Charlie Montoyo is quite familiar from his time in Tampa Bay. In that instance, someone such as Gaviglio or Pannone could handle multiple innings in relief of an opener, thus shielding the team’s weakest starter from the opposing lineup’s most dangerous hitters the first time through the order. For now, the Jays have several off-days looming on the schedule, limiting their need for a fifth starter and lessening the urgency of the decision.
Blue Jays Rumors
Following a recent elbow scare, Mets ace Jacob deGrom may not be headed for an MRI after all, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey. After being scratched from his most recent start and placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow soreness, deGrom was able to play catch on Saturday, with the pitcher saying that he felt “completely normal.” DeGrom cited his illness, which prevented him from maintaining his usual routine throughout last week, as the primary source of his soreness. Both deGrom and manager Mickey Callaway expressed little concern over the soreness, leading the Mets to reconsider the previous plan to schedule an MRI for Monday. To be sure, that remains on the table, as doctors will continue to monitor the 2018 Cy Young Award winner; however, the organization has expressed confidence that additional imaging will not be necessary, and deGrom has stated that he intends to start on Friday, when he can be activated from the IL.
Here’s the latest on other injuries from around baseball…
- DeGrom’s teammate Robinson Cano exited Sunday’s matchup with the Cardinals after he was hit in the hand with an Andrew Miller pitch. X-rays returned negative results, but Healey notes that Cano was wearing a cast after the game and will likely undergo further testing to determine the seriousness of the injury. Off to a slow start with his new club, Cano certainly does not need an injury to complicate an already challenging April.
- Nationals ace Max Scherzer suffered an unusual injury earlier today when he tweaked his left intercostal while dodging a foul ball that found its way to the Nats’ dugout. Per Byron Kerr of MASN, Scherzer is optimistic that the injury will only keep him out of commission for a couple of days and will not require an IL stint. Scherzer started Saturday’s game in Miami, so such a time frame would not require the righty to miss any scheduled starts.
- According to Pedro Moura of The Athletic, the Dodgers will activate southpaw Rich Hill and catcher Russell Martin this weekend when the Pirates visit Dodger Stadium. Both veterans are currently on the 10-day IL, with Martin suffering from lower back inflammation and Hill, who has yet to make his 2019 debut, recovering from a left knee sprain. The Dodgers’ rotation has excelled even without Hill, but the club will certainly welcome the 38-year-old back into the fold, further strengthening the pitching staff.
- Bad news for the Blue Jays’ rotation continues to pile up, with right-hander Aaron Sanchez exiting Sunday’s game due to a broken fingernail on his right middle finger. Notably, Sanchez has a history of finger issues, which have led to IL stints in each of the previous two seasons. However, manager Charlie Montoyo told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link) that he is hopeful the injury will not force Sanchez to miss any starts.
Matt Shoemaker has a torn left ACL that will keep him out of action for the rest of the 2019 season, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The Blue Jays right-hander was placed on the 10-day IL earlier today after suffering the injury during Saturday’s game. What was initially thought to be a knee sprain is evidently much worse than expected, and Shoemaker finds himself on the shelf in what seems to be the worst-case scenario.
The diagnosis comes as the latest in a frustrating set of seasons for Shoemaker, who managed just 21 starts in his final two seasons with the Angels. After he was unable to replicate the success that he enjoyed in 2014, his first full Major League season, the 32-year-old signed on with the Blue Jays last winter on a one-year deal, hoping that a change of scenery would coincide with a return to strength and a comeback season.
The news is that much more devastating when considered in context with Shoemaker’s extensive injury history and his early-season success with his new club. Through his first five starts of the young season, Shoemaker impressed his new organization and looked in position to make good on that return to form. His 1.57 ERA was accompanied by impressive peripheral numbers, with his 0.9 HR/9 on par with his best seasons. Unfortunately, though, 2019 will go down as another lost season for the veteran righty.
Of course, the injury is equally disappointing for the Blue Jays, who looked to Shoemaker to provide stability in a rotation that was one of the weakest in the American League last season. Entering the season, there were plenty of questions in the rotation, with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez both enduring disappointing seasons in 2018 and free-agent signee Clay Buchholz a relative unknown. The depth beyond that group of veterans is comprised of unproven young pitchers, one of whom will now have to step into the rotation in Shoemaker’s absence. Thomas Pannone and Sam Gaviglio, who started 24 games for Toronto in 2018, appear most likely to replace Shoemaker.
Though his contract will expire at season’s end, Shoemaker is still eligible for arbitration, so the Blue Jays will have priority to keep the hurler around for next season if both parties are interested, though his contractual status is surely the last thing on Shoemaker’s mind following his injury.
The Blue Jays have placed righty Matt Shoemaker on the 10-day injured list due to a left knee sprain, as per a club announcement (via Twitter). Infielder Richard Urena has been recalled from Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Shoemaker suffered the injury on Saturday, while participating in a rundown to record the last out of the third inning of Toronto’s 10-1 win over the A’s. The right-hander was replaced by Sam Gaviglio to begin the next inning. Shoemaker is scheduled to undergo an MRI to determine the severity of his injury, and the potential timeframe for his return. A lengthy IL stint could scuttle Shoemaker’s value as a potential deadline trade chip for the rebuilding Blue Jays, given his strong early-season results.
After tossing only 108 2/3 total innings in 2017-18 for the Angels due to multiple forearm problems, Shoemaker had a 1.57 ERA, 7.53 K/9, 51.4% grounder rate, and 2.67 K/BB rate over his first 28 2/3 innings in a Blue Jays uniform. There is certainly some good fortune baked into those results, as Shoemaker’s .335 xwOBA far outweighs his .243 wOBA and he has also received some good batted-ball (.183 BABIP) and strand rate (87.2%) luck. That said, Shoemaker also has a career-best 13.4% swinging strike rate.
- Speculation continues to swirl over when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be promoted to the Blue Jays’ roster, now that more than enough days have elapsed on the service-time calendar for the Jays to gain an extra year of control over the star prospect. Guerrero was slowed by an oblique injury suffered during Spring Training, though he hasn’t looked any worse for wear in his return to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, posting a whopping 1.324 OPS over his first 20 plate appearances. The Jays would like to see Guerrero play in three consecutive games as part of his recovery process, though as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes, this has yet to happen due to multiple rainouts on Buffalo’s schedule. Assuming the Bisons get some good weather on their four-game series in Syracuse this week, Chisholm speculates that April 26 would seem to be the earliest potential date for Guerrero’s Toronto debut, when the Blue Jays begin a series against the Athletics at Rogers Centre.
- Blue Jays right-hander Matt Shoemaker suffered a left knee sprain Saturday and will undergo an MRI on Sunday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. A stint on the injured list looks like a legitimate possibility for Shoemaker, who was frequently on the IL during his Angels tenure. The first-year Blue Jay, whom they signed for $3.5MM in free agency, looked like a quality bargain pickup for the club prior to his latest injury. Shoemaker threw three scoreless innings against Oakland before departing Saturday, leaving him with a 1.57 ERA/3.80 FIP, 7.53 K/9, 2.83 BB/9 and a 51.4 percent groundball rate in 28 2/3 frames this year.
The Blue Jays announced Thursday that they’ve designated right-hander Javy Guerra for assignment in order to open a spot on the active roster for righty Ryan Tepera, who has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
Guerra, 33, appeared in 10 games for Toronto early in the season but was tagged for six runs on nine hits, four walks and a hit batter. He did manage 12 strikeouts in his brief stint with the Jays, although a well-below-average 6.7 percent swinging-strike rate and 25.7 percent opponents’ chase rate suggest he wouldn’t be likely to maintain that strikeout rate. In 223 1/3 innings at the MLB level dating back to 2011, Guerra has a 3.51 ERA with 7.4 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 and a 44.5 percent ground-ball rate, but he hasn’t had much success at the MLB level since 2014.
The well-traveled Guerra is hardly a stranger to the DFA process; this is the sixth time in his career he’s been designated for assignment. The Jays will have a week to trade him or run him through outright waivers, with the latter of those two outcomes seeming the more likely route. If Guerra clears, he’d be able to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency.
In Tepera, the Blue Jays will be getting one of their top late-inning arms back after a three-week absence due to what looks to have been a minor elbow injury. Dating back to the 2016 season, Tepera has turned in 160 2/3 frames of 3.53 ERA ball with 9.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. He’s earning $1.525MM as a first-time arbitration player in 2019. Assuming Tepera can demonstrate that he’s fully healthy over the next couple of months, he’ll likely be an oft-asked-about trade candidate for a rebuilding Jays club this summer.
- The Blue Jays have some relief on the way with right-hander Ryan Tepera set to be activated in the next day or two, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm tweets. The elbow inflammation that put Tepera on the shelf to open the year has obviously not proven to be too big a concern, as the 31-year-old is ready to roll after just two minor-league rehab appearances. Tepera has been a solid pen piece for the Toronto organization, turning in 193 2/3 innings of 3.49 ball over the past four seasons.
April 15: The Blue Jays announced the move. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Sogard, the team has transferred left-hander Ryan Borucki from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Borucki has already been on the IL all season but will now be definitively ruled out until May 27.
April 14: The Blue Jays are sending infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to Triple A, per Scott Mitchell of TSN Sports. Gurriel the younger was removed from today’s game for a “mental break” per manager Charlie Montoyo. The team hopes their young infielder can get back on track with a Triple-A reset, per Mitchell (Twitter links). MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweeted about the possibility of a Gurriel demotion earlier today.
While Gurriel Jr. heads to Buffalo, veteran infielder Eric Sogard is set to join the major league roster. The spectacled Sogard received the bulk of his big league playing time with the A’s from 2010-2015, where he slashed .239/.295/.313 over 1331 plate appearances while playing second, third and short. He spent the last two seasons with the Brewers, hitting .234/.351/.318 across 412 PAs.
Gurriel, meanwhile, has flashed moments of athletic playmaking, such as when he stole home off of Chris Sale last week, while also misfiring on a pair of routine throws from second base. An overall rough go of it at the dish (49 wRC+) also likely bolstered the case in favor of demotion. Given the long-term, if reasonable, financial investment the Blue Jays have made to Gurriel, he likely gets ample opportunity to figure it out, though there’s also little reason to rush him back to the majors. Toronto owes the 25-year-old infielder an average of roughly $3.14MM per season until he hits free agency after the 2023 seasons.
- Blue Jays righty Ryan Borucki’s bothersome elbow will be re-evaluated in two weeks after the hurler received a cortisone shot, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. Borucki first experienced the problem in the final week of Spring Training, and hasn’t thrown since a bullpen session on April 3.
- In other Blue Jays injury news from Davidi’s piece, Ryan Tepera has begun a rehab assignment and could potentially join the team as early as this weekend, as the reliever tries to bounce back from his own elbow problems. David Phelps is set to begin bullpen sessions next week as the reliever continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery, with an eye towards a midseason return. Devon Travis is scheduled for baseball activities next week, though a 60-day IL placement in the wake of meniscus surgery means that Travis isn’t eligible to return to the Jays’ big league roster until late May.