May 2017

Injury Update: Russell Martin

Toronto Blue Jays starting catcher Russel Martin has been added to the disabled list (DL) with with nerve inflammation in his left shoulder.

Unfortunately, this adds yet another everyday player for the Jays on the disabled list. However, Martin should be back to 100% in 10 days, unlike Donaldson, Tulo, and everyone else currently on the DL. If you include the Kendrys Morales also being added potentially (hamstring), that means $70 million of payroll are on the disabled list… yikes!

“I’m having a hard time lifting my arm and catching certain pitches,” Martin told media. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had in my career.”

Fortunately, John Gibbons does not think it will be a big problem and doesn’t expect it to be a long-term absence.

“It’s like I physically have a hard time doing certain things that I’ve never had trouble doing before,” Martin said. “You’re rarely 100 per cent in this game, but I definitely felt like there were times where I was missing pitches that I’m used to putting in play.”

Russell Martin is one of the Jays most irreplaceable players on the 25-man roster, and one that we could not afford to lose longterm. Thankfully, the Jays happen to have some catching depth in AAA Buffalo. While they are not superstars, they will do until Martin comes back and the Jays get a backup catcher (more on that another time). They have called up Luke Maile and Mike Ohlman, whom have already debuted as Jays in the past few days. Ohlman only had one start, but Maile has been filling in for Martin everyday. He may not drive in a lot of offence, but he has been quite good over the past few games.

“It’s definitely the hardest position to play in the game,” says Dioner Navarro, a fellow catcher. “Look, no disrespect to anybody, but if you’re playing third base, you just have to think about third base. If you’re playing shortstop, you just have to think about shortstop. But as catchers, we have to think about third base, shortstop, second base, first base, the pitcher, everything. Really, no one on the field has to think and do as much as us. And there’s not many guys who do it all as well as Russ.”

Alyssa Cohen

This Week in the Jays Nest #5: Bullpen Strong

“This Week in the Jays Nest” is a Toronto Blue Jays weekly recap that will be posted once a week on the Alyssa Cohen MLB Blog. It will feature the highlights of the past weeks Toronto Blue Jays baseball games, injury updates, roster updates and a question of the week.

The Blue Jays completed their one week road trip with a .500 record. Ever since the 2-11 start, the Jays have been 9-9! If only they could win 9 games in a row…

Roster Updates:

  • RHP Danny Barnes called up to replace Aaron Sanchez on roster.
  • Blue Jays release C Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
  • Blue Jays claim RHP Neil Ramirez off waivers from SFGiants.
  • Mat Latos DFA’d.
  • Blue Jays claim RHP Cesar Valdez from #A’s and optioned him to AAA Buffalo.
  • Neil Ramirez has been activated per club.
  • Blue Jays acquire C Pat Cantwell from Texas for PTBNL or cash. He will report to New Hampshire (AA).

Injury Updates:

  • Aaron Sanchez placed back on 10-day DL (split nail).
  • J.A. Happ threw on flat ground, not close to return (May 3).
  • Donaldson and Tulowitzki took ground balls (May 3).
  • Marcus Stroman pulled from May 3 start due to “tightness in his arm”.
  • Aaron Sanchez threw 33 pitches in a bullpen side session off the mound. Curve balls part of arsenal. No sign of blood. Positive day. (May 7)

Games Played This Week:

May 1, 2017 – Jays (7) @ Yankees (1)

José Bautista finally hit his second home run of the season, along with Chris Coghlan (1) and Ryan Goins (1)! Marco Estrada also pitched seven excellent innings, resulting in our Blue Jays winning the series opener!

May 2, 2017 – Jays (5) @ Yankees (11)

Mat Latos had a rough start, giving up 10 hits and four homers in four innings. The offence was pretty quiet, and it seemed like the Jays were out of it since the beginning of the game.

May 3, 2017 – Jays (6) @ Yankees (8)

The Jays scored four runs in the first inning, but sadly Marcus Stroman was not as sharp as normal, allowing the Yankees to score three runs in the bottom of the first. The Jays never seemed out of the game, until the seventh inning when they gave up three runs.

May 5, 2017 – Jays (8) @ Rays (4)

If you would have told me that the Jays would have won this game, I would never have believed you! It seemed that this game had been made up of two games, one game during innings one through six, and another game during innings seven through nine. Thanks to a strong bullpen performance and two Kendrys Morales homers, the Jays came away with a win!

May 6, 2017 – Jays (1) @ Rays (6)

The Jays bats seemed to have been swinging… at least in the first inning. Marco Estrada gave up 5 runs to the Rays for the second time this season, as the Blue Jays lost 6-1.

May 7, 2017 – Jays (2) @ Rays (1)

The Blue Jays won the their second series of the season, curiosity of the Tampa Bay Rays (again!). Joe Biagini made his first MLB start and pitched a gem of a game, giving up 5 hits and one un-earned run! Thanks to Darwin Barney’s first home run of the year, the Jays won the game 2-1!

Gifs of the Week: Brought to you by ateDARYL

Blog Posts Published this Week:

Who is the Toronto Blue Jays Fifth Starter?

Blue Jays Release C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Joe Biagini to Start on Sunday against Tampa Bay Rays

This upcoming week marks the return of our beloved Edwin Encarnacion, lets show him the love he deserves (as long as he doesn’t bring along the parrot!).

Alyssa Cohen

Joe Biagini to Start on Sunday against Tampa Bay Rays

On Friday (May 5), the Blue Jays announced that Joe Biagini will be making his first start as a Blue Jay on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pending the possible injury of Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays have two (potentially three) starting rotation starts open. It is important for the Blue Jays to see how Biagini could pitch in 2+ innings, not just one inning in relief. If all goes well, Biagini will have a lock on a starting roll for the next few weeks.

Mat Latos was originally scheduled to start in Tampa, but has since been DFA’d.

“I’d be more than pleased if he gave us four” innings.” said John Gibbons after talking to the media on Friday, late afternoon.

Here is what Joe Biagini had to say:


Let’s hope that Joe Biagini can fill the needs of the Blue Jays starting pitching rotation, while several regular starters are on the DL.

Alyssa Cohen

Blue Jays release C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

It’s official, the Toronto Blue Jays have released backup catcher Jarrod “Salty” Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamacchia was originally signed by the Blue Jays to a minor league deal, but was brought up to the major league team once the season began. He was brought up to give everyday catcher Russel Martin more frequent off days. Last year, Jays backup catchers Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole were on the team to give him more rest, but they both lacked offensive and defensive power that Martin brought to the lineup every game. When the Jays signed Saltalamacchia, they thought they were going to be getting good defence and mediocre offence, but that did not seem to be true.

With his time in the Jays organization, .Saltalamacchia had a 040/.077/.040 batting line with 16 strikeouts to one walk across 10 games played.

On April 28, the Jays DFA’d Saltalamacchia, and on May 3 he was officially released.

With Saltalamacchia now officially off the roster, the Blue Jays have selected the contract of C Luke Maile. He has already played his first game as a Jay, and did an excellent job catching Marco Estrada through five innings on Monday.

The Blue Jays have a couple of options they can choose from here. There is always an option to trade for a decently good catcher, but since it is still early in the season not many clubs will be willing to trade any players right now. Another option would be to call a player up from within the organization, but all of the AA/AAA minor league catchers still need quite a bit of time to develop. As of right now, the most obvious route would be sticking with Maile until a better option rises.

As of right now, there should be less of a concern with finding a new backup catcher, and more of a concern with finding out why the Blue Jays are not winning nearly as many games as they had been expected to win.

Alyssa Cohen

Who is the Toronto Blue Jays Fifth Starter?

With Aaron Sanchez back on the disabled list, and J.A. Happ still on it, who will take over the spot as the fifth reliever?

As I have mentioned many times before, the one good thing about having Drew Hutchison in the organization was that he was a reliable starter. Whenever a starter or reliable reliever got injured, the Jays could call up Hutchison to take over the spot. And while he may not have been as good as the injured pitcher, he would still be about average.

Mat Latos made an ugly start on Tuesday (May 2), giving up seven earned runs in four innings. But with Sanchez back on the DL, he will be making at least one more start.

Casey Lawerence was brought up to take over a game start, since Happ and Sanchez are on the DL, but he did not have a fantastic first start. He gave up a grand slam, but that was pretty much the only damage he caused in 6 and 1/3 innings. Does he deserve a second start? Possibly. But are there any other pitchers the Jays could give the start to instead? Maybe.

On Sunday (April 30), Sanchez exited the game after one inning (13 pitches). The Jays went to the bullpen and called out Ryan Tepera. Coincidently, I was at that game and was immediately confused as to what had happened to Sanchez, but thanks to Twitter, the situation was explained. Tepera was not the most obvious choice to call out of the pen, but he was stellar in his four innings of relief, playing one run ball. Does that emergency relief appearance earn Tepera a start? I believe so. Even if he can play four – five innings, I have faith that the Jays bullpen would be able to keep the team in the game, even if they give up a couple of runs. For the past few games, the bullpen has played great, and if they can continue to pitch like that, it can help support any starter.

At this point, there really isn’t anyone that the Blue Jays could call up from AAA Buffalo. Technically speaking, Mat Latos is that guy, but he is already filling in for one missing starter.

One of the biggest concerns going into this season was about the health status of our starters, and what would happen to the team if anyone got injured. Now that health is a major risk factor in the five man rotation, the Toronto Blue Jays organization will be put to the test. If they manage to figure out a way to win without two of their most valuable starters, that can certainly help the Jays in the long run. But if the Blue Jays get trapped in a hole, due to a lack of starting pitching, it has the potential to hurt them for the rest of the season.

Alyssa Cohen