It reaaaaaly shouldn’t be coming down to this, but it would seem as though today is a big day for the shaping of the Blue Jays’ starting rotation — or at least the version of it that will break camp with the club. J.A. Happ gets the start in Bradenton, with a squad of minor leaguers behind him and what people are calling the Pirates’ A-lineup in front of him. Esmil Rogers follows suit, his most recent outing having been a very solid start against the Phillies — six strikeouts, five hits, one walk, over 4.2 innings — which was thoroughly overshadowed by a sparkling performance from Dustin McGowan… who also takes the hill today in a minor league game.
And… um… remember after that game against the Phillies when ol’ Dr. Gibbers made it plain that the Jays would not begin the year with Dustin McGowan in the starting rotation?
Evidently, according to Rutsey, pitching coach Pete Walker and Alex Anthopoulos don’t quite see eye-to-eye with Gibbers and his ultra-conservative ways when it comes to McGowan’s health. After Gibbons had put a damper on the idea of McGowan being in the mix, his boss and his pitching coach told reporters that there was still a chance. McGowan still had to respond well to his next side session, and to the 65 pitches he’ll throw today, but in the Sun piece Walker suggested that the Jays have him on the exact path I laid out last week (because it was obvious, FYI, not because I possess any kind of super secret special knowledge), which would put him in line to start the home opener, following the start today and a minor league start on Sunday, if this scheme actually ends up working. And, damn it, it just might be crazy enough to!
Anyway, following all this, Gibbons, according to Lott’s piece, chided the media for running with the idea that he had ruled McGowan out of the rotation mix, even though… he pretty much did. He also chided them for allegedly twisting his words about Ryan Goins who had then not yet been “officially” named the club’s starting second baseman, even though he now has. (He has also been “dumbly” been named the club’s second baseman, FYI.)
Kind of weird optics going on there with the backpedaling and Gibbons looking like he had been overruled, but… who knows? And it’s not like he’s wrong and there aren’t big problems with this whole McGowan fantasy. I mean, it takes a hell of an effort to get through the part in that Sun piece where we’re told McGowan’s health problems are behind him — because… seriously? — but… I don’t know, man. Weighted balls? Maybe?
Yeah, I don’t know. And frankly, unsexy as it probably sounds, J.A. Happ can go a long way towards wresting the competition back in his favour by just looking like a damn big leaguer today. We shall see! (Er… hear, at least.)
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the many unanswered questions remaining with the rotation.
John Lott tweets that Jose Reyes says that his hamstring is feeling “way better” this morning, while Barry Davis adds that the shortstop tells him that this injury is nowhere near as bad as previous ones.
Scott MacArthur tweets that ol’ Gibbers says that if Reyes can play in the next couple of days, it will be as DH, and if he’s healthy enough he’ll make the trip to Montreal for the series this weekend. Sigh of relief?
Mike Wilner seems to have been the first to tweet the suggestion from Gibbons that whoever catches R.A. Dickey tomorrow will be the club’s backup catcher to start the year. Both Erik Kratz and Josh Thole are with the club in Bradenton today, but the fact that Kratz is in the game and batting cleanup probably gives you some indication of how highly the Jays think of his bat.
The results weren’t the greatest yesterday for Brandon Morrow, though he wasn’t exactly being hit all over the yard either, and according to John Lott of the National Post, John Gibbons says that the right-hander’s health is really all that matters. From all indications, Morrow felt good and took another step toward being ready for the season. He’ll start on Saturday in Montreal, from all indications.
Schadenfraude update: Geovany Soto is hurt for Texas, but that’s not exactly thrust J.P. Arencibia into the role of Rangers starting catcher, as a report from the Dallas Morning News says Ron Washington is very non-committal about who’ll get the role, and MLBTR passes along various details about how the club is hoping to fill various roster holes created by injury from outside the organization, including behind the plate. So… I don’t know. If I were them I’d probably actually just go with J.P., if only because he’s so likely to nail it just to spite us.
And now the lineups…
Toronto Blue Jays
RF Matt Tuiasosopo (R)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C Erik Kratz (R)
1B Dan Johnson (L)
CF Brett Carroll (R)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
SS Ryan Goins (L)
3B Jonathan Diaz (R)
LHP J.A. Happ
LF Starling Marte (R)
C Russell Martin (R)
CF Andrew McCutchen (L)
3B Pedro Alvarez (L)
1B Gaby Sanchez (R)
RF Jose Tabata (R)
2B Neil Walker (S)
SS Jordy Mercer (R)
RHP Wandy Rodriguez