Silver-Lining For The Starting Rotation

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)

Tell me if you've heard (or read?) this before: Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10-Day DL with issues stemming from his right middle finger. 

It's unfortunate, specifically because of how well Sanchez has looked during his last two starts since his return from the DL with the same ailment. Pitching against the Mariners and Orioles, Sanchez totaled 11 innings, giving up 11 hits, 4 runs (3 of which were earned), 1 homerun, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, accumulating an ERA of 2.45 during those two games. He looked pretty sharp and it seemed as though the issue was behind him (minus some visible blood after the start against Seattle), especially after the performance against Baltimore. Yet, I suppose blister issues are far more egregious than our intuition suggests them to be, and perhaps with his third visit to the DL for the same issue, the Jays may take their time with him and wait for this issue to be completely behind him. That's not to say that I think they rushed him to return after his previous two stints on the DL. But with the state of the rotation being a bit battered (to put it lightly), it's conceivable that they gave him enough time to be "good enough" in order to stop the bleeding (no pun intended) and offer a boost for the rotation. I'm not claiming to have any evidence of this - and I'm literally pulling theories out of my ass here, so don't quote me - but it wouldn't shock me if this trip to the DL lasts a bit longer than the 10-Day tag. 

But hold on! It's not all dark clouds and rain when it comes to the rotation, as Ben Nicholson-Smith offers a silver-lining for the other two members of the starting rotation that are currently on the disabled list; J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano. According to Nicholson-Smith, Happ may be approaching a rehab start for Dunedin in the very near future, as he threw 48 pitches (all fastballs) in extended spring training this past Saturday, topping his velocity at 92 mph but mostly sitting around 89-90 mph. Should the outing in Dunedin be successful and without setbacks, it's not out of the question that Happ could rejoin the team perhaps by the end of May. I assume that the main area of focus during Happ's rehab start will be how comfortable he is with his other pitches besides the fastball, and and how he later responds to the outing in terms of recovery. If the Jays like what they see, and he responds without a setback, we can hopefully see him sooner rather than later.

In addition, Nicholson-Smith offers optimism in regards to Liriano's recovery, as he suffered no setbacks after throwing a bullpen session last Thursday in Baltimore, albeit on flat ground. Liriano suggests that he is where he wants to be in regards to the timetable of his recovery, stating that the soreness in his shoulder is diminishing. That being said, it shouldn't be long until Liriano is able to throw a bullpen session off a mound, with perhaps a rehab outing shortly thereafter. 

It's not as quickly as we'd ideally like it to be, but the Jays' rotation may slowly be starting to piece itself together. For now, it is safe to say that Biagini and Stroman will handle starting duties for the upcoming two-game series in Milwaukee, with Bolsinger, Estrada, and Biagini again facing Texas during the weekend series in Toronto. Given how well Milwaukee has surprisingly been playing, I'm comfortable with both Biagini and Stroman taking the hill to face them. The weekend series looks a bit more intimidating, as the Rangers have won 9 of their last 10 games. With Bolsinger projected to take the hill in the opening game of the series, it may be one of those things that you hope for the best, but expect the worst. 

For now, take comfort in knowing that the return of Happ and Liriano isn't too far away, in addition to the Jays waiting until Sanchez's finger woes are fully behind him. Remember, I'm no doctor here, so it's possible that Sanchez may be 100% in 10 days - who am I to say otherwise? If that's the case, the entirety of the starting rotation that we anticipated at the beginning of the season may be reunited before you know it. After taking only 1 game over the weekend in Baltimore, I think we were all in need of some good news.

Fingers crossed, guys.

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