- The Blue Jays don’t expect first baseman/designated hitter Rowdy Tellez to be ready for the wild-card playoff round, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters. Tellez has been on the IL with a right knee strain since Sept. 9. He put up a career-best .283/.346/.540 line with eight homers in 127 plate appearances before then.
Blue Jays Rumors
5:16pm: Toronto has designated Font for assignment, Nicholson-Smith tweets.
3:39pm: The Blue Jays are activating right-hander Nate Pearson from the 10-day injured list and removing fellow righty Wilmer Font from their roster, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet was among those to report. It’s not clear what the Blue Jays will do with Font, but he’s out of minor league options, so they can’t send him down without possibly losing him.
Pearson, one of the game’s elite pitching prospects, hasn’t taken the mound since Aug. 18 because of elbow tightness. It’s obviously a relief for him and the team that he’s ready to return just over a month after that, as elbow problems often lead to far longer absences.
The 24-year-old Pearson made four appearances, all starts, for Toronto before going on the IL, but the club’s set to break him back in as a reliever, per Nicholson-Smith. Despite averaging 96.1 mph on his fastball, Pearson has struggled to a 6.51 ERA/7.65 FIP with 7.71 K/9 and 6.61 BB/9 in 16 1/3 innings this season.
Font, 30, has been a liability for Toronto in 16 1/3 innings this year. He owns a bloated 9.77 ERA (with a much more palatable 4.77 FIP) and 8.27 K/9 against 4.96 BB/9. Font has been victimized by a .448 batting average on balls in play against, though he also ranks toward the bottom of the league in several important Statcast categories.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, plagued by arm injuries throughout the season, is headed for Tommy John surgery that will quite likely wipe out the entirety of his 2021 campaign as well. Giles first announced the move via his wife’s Instagram account, and Toronto skipper Charlie Montoyo has confirmed as much, per ESPN’s Marly Rivera (Twitter link).
Giles’ arm problems date back to last season, when elbow issues prevented him from changing hands around the 2019 deadline in July. Giles looked like a prime candidate to move before then, as he was among the majors’ most dominant relievers. Toronto had to retain the hard-throwing right-hander as a result of his health woes, and the club could now lose him for nothing in the next couple months.
Giles logged a sterling 1.87 ERA/2.27 FIP with 14.09 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 in 53 innings last year, and an encore could have put him in line for a qualifying offer and an expensive contract during the upcoming offseason. Instead, Giles was unable to follow up and could only throw 3 2/3 innings of four-run ball in 2020. Neither a QO nor a high-paying deal figure to be in the cards for Giles in the coming months, then.
Toronto, to its credit, has fared well this year despite few contributions from Giles. The club is 27-26 and in line for a playoff spot without Giles, who will now face an especially uncertain future as the former Phillie and Astro heads into free agency for the first time. The Jays acquired him from the Astros in a deal for fellow reliever Roberto Osuna in July 2018.
After a rough three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays have lost six in a row and fallen into the final qualifying wild card spot in the American League. Now trailing the Yankees by 5 games for second place, the Toronto/Buffalo Blue Jays are pretty well locked into their current spot in the standings, with Fangraphs giving them a 0.9% chance to re-take 2nd place from the Yankees, but a 91.5% chance to hold off the Mariners, Angels, and Tigers for the final playoff spot in the American League postseason bracket. Though they share a record with the Astros, Houston should secure 2nd place in the AL West. The Indians are currently the other wild card team, and they hold a 2 game lead over the Blue Jays with 8 games remaining.
That sets up Toronto for a first-round, 3-game series with the Rays, White Sox, or A’s, with Tampa holding the top spot if the season ended this minute. Hyun Jin Ryu would figure to start the first game of any playoff series, but the rest of the rotation is open to interpretation. With improving health, however, the Jays are on the cusp of adding a few more options to the stable.
Matt Shoemaker has thrown upwards of 60 pitches while preparing to return to the team, which he could do any day now, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Shoemaker has 5 starts under his belt in 2020 with an average of just over 5 innings per start and a 4.91 ERA/6.11 FIP. 8.8 K/9 is a strong mark for Shoemaker, but he’s been doomed by the long ball with 2.8 HR/9. In terms of the playoffs, Shoemaker’s role is up in the air, but he’ll return to the rotation to make a start against the Yankees on Monday, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
The Blue Jays remain hopeful that hard-throwing right-hander Nate Pearson will return before the end of the season as well. Should he return, the Jays will use him for 1 to 2 innings at a time, presumably because there’s not enough time to work him back to full-strength before the playoffs. Pitching Coach Pete Walker reports a return to normal velocity levels for Pearson, per Nicholson-Smith, who suggests Pearson could work in relief to Tom Hatch or Julian Merryweather.
Regardless, the Blue Jays look as though they’ll be piecing together the rotation game-by-game following Ryu. Given their heavy reliance on the pen, a return from Jordan Romano will certainly help. Romano should throw off a mound shortly, and the Blue Jays are hopeful to see him back in their bullpen for the playoffs, per Nicholson-Smith. Romano, 27, enjoyed a breakout 15 appearances before hitting the injured list with a right middle finger strain. He’s been worth 1.1 rWAR with a 1.23 ERA/3.12 FIP and 12.9 K/9 to 3.1 BB/9 while picking up 2 saves and 5 holds.
- The Blue Jays held Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. out of today’s lineup as a precaution, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter). The young first baseman felt “a little dizzy” after being hit by a pitch in the helmet last night, per Nicholson-Smith. The Jays can afford to slow play things with Guerrero, as they sit four games up on Seattle for the final playoff spot in the American League.
Blue Jays reliever Ken Giles has returned to the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. The team also placed outfielder Derek Fisher on the IL with a knee issue, optioned lefty Anthony Kay, activated outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, and recalled righties Jacob Waguespack and Hector Perez.
It’s an alarming situation for Giles, whom arm injuries have weighed down dating back to 2019. He was enjoying an all-world campaign last year before elbow troubles shelved him and prevented the Blue Jays from dealing him before the trade deadline. Giles came back healthy this year, but after making two appearances at the beginning of the campaign, he sat from late July until Sept. 11. The 29-year-old struggled in the two outings sandwiched between IL stints, and has given up four earned runs in 3 2/3 frames this season.
Giles’ season could be over at this point, though he may have a chance to return if the Blue Jays qualify for the playoffs. For now, though, his loss is a blow to their bullpen and potentially to his bank account. As a pending free agent, Giles could have been in for a sizable contract had he been healthy and effective this season. That could still prove to be the case when the offseason rolls around, but Giles’ value certainly hasn’t risen in 2020.
The good news for Toronto is that it’s getting back Hernandez, who was among the league’s top hitters before he went on the IL on Sept. 7 with a left oblique strain. So far, Hernandez has slashed .308/.358/.637 with 14 home runs in 159 plate appearances.
Miller, whom the Blue Jays signed to a minor league contract last winter, had been at their alternate training site. The former Tiger, Rockie and National, 33, has recorded a 4.43 ERA/4.35 FIP with 9.15 K/9 and 3.11 BB/9 over 156 1/3 innings in the majors. He most recently tossed 15 2/3 frames as a Nat in 2019 and logged a 4.02 ERA (with a disastrous 7.11 FIP), posted 6.11 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9, and registered a career-worst 19.1 percent groundball rate.
The latest minor moves from around baseball….
- The Blue Jays outrighted catcher Caleb Joseph to their taxi squad after he cleared waivers, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets. The club designated Joseph for assignment on Sept. 11 and replaced him on its roster with young catcher Alejandro Kirk. The 34-year-old Joseph has taken only nine trips to the plate with the Blue Jays this season, and as a .223/.270/.351 hitter in 1,367 PA, the former Oriole and Diamondback hasn’t posed much of a threat on offense since he debuted in 2014.
- The Indians outrighted Dominic Leone off their 40-man roster after the right-hander cleared waivers, and the team announced that Leone has reported to its alternate training site. Leone was designated for assignment earlier this week. The veteran reliever struggled to an 8.38 ERA over 9 2/3 innings for the Tribe this season, allowing three home runs (for a 2.8 HR/9) over that brief span. While six of Leone’s nine runs allowed came over two disastrous outings against the Royals and Tigers, Leone wasn’t exactly solid otherwise, as he allowed at least one baserunner in all but two of his 12 appearances. On the plus side, Leone did record 16 strikeouts over his 9 2/3 frames.
- Blue Jays righties Nate Pearson and Matt Shoemaker will throw live batting practice this week and could return to the roster before season’s end, writes Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Neither can be expected to build back up to a full starter’s workload at this point, however, so their likeliest roles would be shorter stints out of the ’pen. Putting Pearson in a short, multi-inning relief role or even an inning-at-a-time relief role would give Toronto a potentially formidable postseason weapon if he is indeed able to make it back from his current flexor strain. Shoemaker, meanwhile, is working back from shoulder inflammation that has sidelined him since Aug. 23.
The Brewers announced Monday that they’ve claimed outfielder Billy McKinney off waivers from the Blue Jays, who had designated him for assignment on Friday. He’s been optioned to the Brewers’ alternate training site. Milwaukee also added righty Justin Topa as the 29th man for their doubleheader today and reinstated right-hander Ray Black from the 45-day injured list.
The 26-year-old McKinney was a first-round pick (No. 24 overall) by the Athletics back in 2013 and has since bounced around the league in a series of high-profile swaps. Oakland initially sent him to the Cubs as part of the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, but McKinney never made it to the big leagues in Chicago. Instead, the Cubs shipped him to the Yankees alongside Gleyber Torres in 2016’s Aroldis Chapman deadline swap. Nearly two years to the day later, the Yankees flipped McKinney to Toronto as part of their return for lefty J.A. Happ.
McKinney appeared in only two games for the Yankees and has spent the other 122 games of his big league career with the Toronto organization. He’s shown some pop, evidenced by a .209 ISO, 18 homers, 21 doubles and a triple in 407 plate appearances with the Jays, but McKinney has also been prone to strikeouts and infield flies without drawing much in the walk department.
Overall, McKinney is a .231/.291/.437 hitter with a 25.8 percent strikeout rate and a 7.3 percent walk rate in the Majors. He’s drawn average reviews for his glovework in right field and below-average marks in left. McKinney has never played center in the Majors but does have a handful of innings at first base. He’s out of minor league options after this season, so there will be increased pressure for him to make the club in 2021 — if he survives on the 40-man roster until next year’s Spring Training, that is.
The decision to designate Supak is somewhat of a surprise, given that he’s long been regarded among the organization’s better pitching prospects and put together a nice season in Double-A last year. True, the Milwaukee farm has been regarded as one of the lower-ranking systems in the game for several seasons, but Supak looked to have an opportunity to make it to the Majors this year.
Supak spent most of last year in Double-A, where he pitched 122 2/3 frames of 2.20 ERA ball with 6.9 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.44 HR/9 and a 44.8 percent grounder rate. It’s a very pitcher-friendly setting, and the right-hander’s fielding-independent metrics weren’t as bullish as that rudimentary ERA — 3.14 FIP, 3.59 xFIP — but it was still a promising season all around. Supak was hit hard in a brief seven-game Triple-A stint, but that was true of most pitchers, given the offensive eruption throughout Triple-A that coincided with changes to the composition of the ball itself.
Milwaukee can’t trade Supak at this point, so he’ll now surely be run through outright waivers. He has a minor league option remaining beyond this season and a relatively strong minor league track record, so it wouldn’t all be a surprise to see another club place a claim. Perhaps of note, the club that originally drafted Supak, the Pirates, has the top waiver priority at present. (They’ve since turned over the top of their front office, however.) If Supak goes unclaimed, Milwaukee will be able to outright him to its alternate site and keep him both in the organization and in the 60-man player pool.
As for the 28-year-old Rodriguez, he never got into a game with the Brewers after coming over from the Tigers in a December waiver claim. He’s a versatile utility piece with a bit of pop but overwhelming on-base issues, as can be seen in his career .221/.254/.396 batting line. Rodriguez did swat 14 big flies in 294 MLB plate appearances last year, but he also carries a career 24.8 percent strikeout rate and has seen a dismal 18.2 percent of his fly-balls register as infield pop-ups. Thirty percent of Rodriguez’s plate appearances have resulted in either a punchout or a pop-up, and he’s walked at just a 4.6 percent pace in the Majors.