It was supposed to be the perfect start to the weekend: Left Field Brewery had organized a bus trip from Toronto to Buffalo to enjoy the sun, have a few beers, and to watch Marcus Stroman pitch for the Bisons. While I'm sure the folks who signed up will still have a jolly good time, they will be missing Stroman this evening. According to Buffalo News columnist, Bisons beat reporter, and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame member Mike Harrington, the short righty has been swapped out for Esmil Rogers, a taller righty.
#Bisons manager Gary Allenson has no info on Stroman. Said there's no health issue. Obviously something in the works.— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) May 30, 2014
Stroman had been listed as a starter all along, including press notes from this afternoon, but Rogers's name was the one found on the lineup card. Stroman travelled back to Buffalo from Indianapolis before the rest of the team to prepare for tonight's start, so the decision might have been made late last night or this morning. His tweet about taking a trip to the mall (Walden Galleria?) on the morning of his start day probably should've tipped us off about this situation:
Feelin' some retail therapy today. Mall trip coming soon!— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo7) May 30, 2014
Stroman has not been as sharp in his latest stint in Buffalo as he had been at the beginning of the season. In two starts he gave up seven runs on 10 hits in nine total innings of work, but he struck out nine in that span while walking just two. After being limited to a 64 pitches in his first start, it looks like he is one start away from being fully stretched out again after throwing 83 five days ago.
The speculation is that Marcus Stroman's start is going to be pushed back until Monday, June 2 to allow him to replace Liam Hendriks in the rotation the next time through. The Blue Jays have an off day on Monday and Hendriks is slotted to start on Tuesday. However, that off day allows the team to skip Hendriks altogether and move everyone up one day, with R.A. Dickey starting on Tuesday. Stroman could then be called up prior to the game against the Cardinals on June 7 to start that game. He first reported to Buffalo for his optional assignment on May 19, which means 2014 will not count as an option year if he is recalled to make that start.
Hendriks's numbers has looked good in his two starts with Toronto, but he was the recipient of some good luck and excellent defence in his latest start against the Rays. Prior to this, Stroman was aligned with J.A. Happ's schedule, leading to speculations that Happ could be the one he would replace. The speculated shift of schedule may mean that Happ is safe--for now. There's still the chance that Stroman can slot into Happ's place. If Stroman is slotted to start on Saturday, May 31, he will be still aligned with Happ's slot because of that Monday off day.
I'm sure there will be more to come.
UPDATE (5:10 pm): Like flour in gravy, the plot thickens!
Stroman is tossing? Does he know he's not starting?
UPDATE (5:40 pm): Stroman close to recall?
So, the mystery of whether Marcus Stroman will start tonight has been answered (he's not). However, his agent is telling him to "hang on and see what happens" and Stroman admits that he might be heading onto a limo soon. He could be slotted to pitch as early as this Tuesday for the Blue Jays. Mike Harrington has been doing all the legwork in covering this development.
Stroman: "there's a chance I might be taking a car service out of here soon to go up there but other than that, I really don't know."— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) May 30, 2014
UPDATE (Tom Dakers)
Top Toronto Blue Jays prospect Marcus Stroman was scratched from his scheduled start at triple-A Buffalo on Friday for a possible spot start as soon as Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, multiple sources told Sportsnet.
Maybe they want to push Drew Hutchison back a day? He hasn't looked good since his complete game shutout.
UPDATE (6:56 pm)
According to Alex Anthopoulos on Sportsnet Connected, Marcus Stroman was scratched not because he is being traded, but because of a possible need for "length" in the Blue Jays bullpen after tonight's game.
We've had to do that a few times [...] our bullpen has been beat up a little bit, and you never know how the game is going to go and if we need some length for tomorrow ideally you have someone on the roster with options left and things like that. He was scratched not because he's hurt or he's being traded [...] strictly if we have a need we can call him up tomorrow and you ever know, we could go 18 innings tonight and all of a sudden the bullpen is taxed and we'll need an arm to come up that's stretched out. We'll see after the game and tomorrow morning, but it's more of a precaution than anything else.
Nice to know that our general manager is planning for a situation where the Jays go 18 innings... Let's see what the real story is after the game tonight.