Give the Gift of Local News!

Since late July the Toronto Blue Jays have shown they can dominate regular-season baseball, going 43-18 down the stretch.

With the post-season here, it’s on the management and coaching staff to construct a 25-man roster that they hope can win first three games out of five in their American League Division Series, then four out of seven the rest of the way.

At least 21 spots are accounted for among the starting rotation, bullpen, lineup and key contributors off the bench. Before Game 1 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays have to finalize the last few and beyond that decide on their order of pitchers.

“We have the bulk of it set, just some areas, bench, the last few spots in the pen, things like that,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Only 25 guys can come with us, or at least can be active, so you’re going to have discussions.”

Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays would likely go with a seven-man bullpen, which, with a four-man rotation, gives them 14 hitters. Assuming utility infielder Cliff Pennington makes it because of his versatility in the field and as a switch-hitter, that leaves two more spots.

Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera appeared in 90 regular-season games and Anthopoulos said he could be used as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. He’s a good bet along with outfielder Dalton Pompey, who like the Kansas City Royals’ Jerome Dyson last season could be a speed specialist.

“We’ve got a guy like Dalton here who’s done a good job with speed, trying to steal a base for us,” Anthopoulos said.

Other long shots include infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who can also pinch-run, or even power first baseman Matt Hague, who would be the only true right-handed pinch-hitter available.

In the bullpen, there are six locks: closer Roberto Osuna, right-handers Aaron Sanchez, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe and Liam Hendriks and left-hander Brett Cecil. The final job appears to be between righty Ryan Tepera and lefty Aaron Loup, though starter Drew Hutchison might have a chance as a long reliever.

Loup would give the Blue Jays a second lefty, which could be useful in certain situations late in games. But Anthopoulos isn’t concerned if Toronto goes in with just Cecil, partially because Loup has hit so many left-handed batters.

“We have guys like LaTroy Hawkins who’s been pretty good against left-handers as well,” Anthopoulos said. “More so than right/left, it’s who has had more success against what side. If we feel we have seven guys that are all right-handers, but (if) we feel they can get left-handers out, we’ll go with that.”

Tepera struggled in mop-up duty during the Blue Jays’ regular-season-ending 12-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, while Loup — used very sparingly — hasn’t given up an earned run since August. Asked if any reliever tipped the scales in the final series, manager John Gibbons said the club had a pretty good idea going in what it wanted to do.

“You have to take the whole body of work, and of course you go down to the wire maybe on a couple different guys and you look at that, Gibbons said.

Nothing about the rotation is down to the wire. Game 1 starter David Price is joined by Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and R.A. Dickey.

The only question is who gets the ball against the Rangers’ Cole Hamels in Game 2 Friday at Rogers Centre.

“We talked about that a little bit today, if there’s any consideration to the one we were going to start at home, would that be a factor?” Anthopoulos said. “The takeaway would be: Who is the one guy behind Price that gives us the best chance to win Game 2? So that’s all it’s really going to come down to. Not ballparks or things like that.”

Given that he’s 4-0 with a 1.67 earned-run average since making his season debut after a torn ACL in his left knee, Stroman would seem to be the favourite. But Estrada turned in another strong start Saturday and would be on regular rest for Game 2.

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

Report an error

Read our guiding principles

Thanks for reading!

This holiday season, give the gift of local news!

Our goal is to cover all the headlines and events happening in Northeast B.C. If you believe in this coverage, becoming a Supporter is a great way to help!

More stories you might like