The Toronto Blue Jays pitching could look different after Hyun Jin Ryu was ruled out for the season. He just underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for 12 to 18 months. His 2023 campaign looks like one in jeopardy, ending his tenure with the Blue Jays. The absence of the 35-year-old has led to questions and concerns about the team’s pitching depth. Recently, the Blue Jays rotation has hit a wall, with Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman looking less sharp while Yusei Kikuchi is battling with command issues. Sooner or later, the Blue Jays will need to address adding a starter, whether through a trade, free agency, or seeing if any of the young arms, including Pearson, can make an impact.
Blue Jays Pitching Options
If the Blue Jays needed help in the starting rotation, Nate Pearson would be hiding in the bushes somewhere, waiting to provide it. However, that won’t be the case as the 25-year-old is now out with right shoulder discomfort. On Sunday afternoon, working on four days’ rest for the first time this year, Pearson threw two pitches before leaving the game for the Buffalo Bisons. He’ll be evaluated over the week, and regardless of the news of his latest setback, Pearson won’t be able to help Toronto anytime soon.
Ross Stripling is now the newest member of the Blue Jays’ five-man rotation. Last week, the 32-year-old threw two strikeouts in five shutout innings while giving up one hit in Toronto’s 8-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals. Stripling has been excellent whenever he’s on the mound, logging a 3.28 ERA in eight starts.
According to TSN’s Scott Mitchell, Thomas Hatch could get a look as a starter in a swingman role when necessary. The right-hander has given up two runs once in his five previous starts. He also struck out 30 with six walks in that span.
With Ryu out multiple weeks and Stripling back in the rotation Monday in KC, I’ve heard Thomas Hatch could get a look as SP No. 6/swingman if/when a need arises.
Hatch has been just OK at AAA with a 5.36 ERA, but his last 3 starts he’s posted a 2.16 with a .194 BA against.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) June 4, 2022
Casey Lawrence and Max Castillo are other starter options. Castillo, who made his major league debut last week, rose up from the minor league ranks. He pitched his way to an opportunity courtesy of a 0.77 ERA in four outings in Triple A. The 34-year-old Lawrence was out of the Majors for three years, pitching in Japan in 2019, then spent 2021 in an independent ball league.
The trade market seems to like the ideal option for the Blue Jays. There could be slim pickings in the trade market, but it doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there. Two options come to mind in this situation. First, add depth, and someone like Tyler Mahle comes to mind. Mahle has a low price tag, considering he has one year of team control remaining after the 2022 season. He posted a 6.45 ERA in April and then a 4.88 ERA the following month.
(Writers note: Mahle is presumed unavailable to Toronto as he was placed on the restricted list when Cincinnati visited north of the border last month.)
Despite the high ERA, Mahle has rebounded nicely in June, pitching a 1.71 ERA in three starts. Other depth options include Zach Davies, Jordan Lyles or Jose Quintana. Luis Castillo does come to mind too, but he’ll likely be the most expensive to acquire through trade. The 29-year-old posted an 8-16 record with a 3.98 ERA and 192 strikeouts last season. This year, Castillo is 2-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings pitched. On the other hand, the other option is to add depth and complementary players. Last summer they sent Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson to Minnesota for José Berríos. Over the winter, they landed Gausman. Frankie Montas is one of the few survivors from Oakland’s offseason departures. He’s a proven pitcher and checks off everything the Blue Jays need.
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Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, Nate Pearson, Ross Stripling, Thomas Hatch, Casey Lawrence, Max Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Zach Davies, Jordan Lyles, Jose Quintana, Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, José Berríos