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The Blue Jays face several important roster decisions this week

The return of Tulo, Donaldson and Martin is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time for decision making.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays roster could look quite different by this time next week. With Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin all due off the DL during the upcoming road trip and multiple off days around the corner, the front office is going to have an opportunity to shuffle and manipulate the 25-man roster.

First off, let’s take a look at the roster as it stands now:

Starting Pitchers (5)

Marco Estrada

Marcus Stroman

Aaron Sanchez

Joe Biagini

Mike Bolsinger

Relief Pitchers (8)

Roberto Osuna

Joe Smith

Danny Barnes

Ryan Tepera

Aaron Loup

Jason Grilli

Dominic Leone

J.P. Howell

Outfielders (4)

Jose Bautista

Kevin Pillar

Ezequiel Carrera

Darrell Ceciliani

Infielders (6)

Justin Smoak

Devon Travis

Ryan Goins

Darwin Barney

Chris Coghlan

Kendrys Morales (DH)

Catchers (2)

Luke Maile

Mike Ohlman

So with this information in place, let’s explore some roster questions the club is about to face.

1) Is Saturday going to be Mike Bolsinger’s last start in the rotation?

It probably should be based on the upcoming schedule. With a pair of off days book ending the Milwaukee series next week, there’s no need to start anybody outside of Estrada, Stroman, Sanchez and Biagini (with the exception of Saturday’s game) until May 30. Here’s the breakdown.

May 17 @ Atlanta (Biagini)

May 18 @ Atlanta (Stroman)

May 19 @ Baltimore (Sanchez)

May 20 @Baltimore (Bolsinger) Ugh!

May 21 @ Baltimore (Estrada)

May 22 ( Off Day)

May 23 @ Milwaukee (Biagini) On an extra days rest

May 24 @ Milwaukee (Stroman) On an extra days rest

May 25 (Off Day)

May 26 vs. Texas (Sanchez) On two extra days rest

May 27 vs. Texas (Estrada) On an extra days rest

May 28 vs. Texas (Biagini) On normal rest

May 29 vs. Cincinnati (Stroman) On normal rest

At six games under .500, the Blue Jays can’t afford to throw any opportunities away, and this is an easy way to ensure that sub optimal starters stay out of the rotation for ten of the next eleven games.

Now if it were up to me, Bolsinger wouldn’t even get the start on Saturday since he absolutely stinks. I would demote him to low leverage bullpen mop up duty for the next couple of series and start Tepera in an all bullpen game on Saturday.

You can afford to do something like this because there’s off days looming on Monday and Thursday of next week, so blowing out the bullpen does’t have huge consequences like it would during most stretches of the season. They’re going to get rest shortly after that big pile of work. In addition to this, if you play with a four man rotation in all the other games leading up to May 30, you automatically create an extra arm in the bullpen to share some of the load.

The Blue Jays have already announced that Bolsinger is getting Saturday’s game (so the Tepera idea is shot), but even so, it will be interesting to see how aggressively they use the pen in this game. If Bolsinger’s getting the start, he shouldn’t be allowed to stay in long enough to let the game get out of control against a division rival like Baltimore.

2) Who gets knocked off the 25-man roster when Tulo and Donaldson are activated?

In some ways this might be connected to the Bolsinger question. For instance, if Donaldson is activated on Sunday and the Jays decide to not use a fifth starter until May 30 as outlined above, a Mike Bolsinger DFA seems like a logical corresponding move.

Clues may come before the weekend however because Tulo is expected to be activated in Atlanta. When this happens, I see three possible corresponding moves.

A) DFA Chris Coghlan

B) Option Darrell Ceciliani back to Buffalo

C) Remove a bullpen piece

Once we get to the point where both Tulo and Donaldson are back on the roster, Coghlan’s presence on the infield will no longer be necessary. However, with Steve Pearce going down and the Jays outfield looking razor thin, Coghlan might survive this roster crunch for now. It’s pretty clear that either Coghlan or Ceciliani will be displaced, it just comes down to who the Jays would rather have as a backup outfielder.

The question is if the front office removes one of these two position players before a bullpen piece. I’m kind of hoping they do because if the corresponding move to Tulo’s activation is a bullpen piece, it probably means they’re giving Bolsinger more wiggle room on Saturday than I’m comfortable with considering his track record. I think I’d rather have the loaded bullpen and try to mix and match my way through that game.

Then again, if Donaldson is ready by Saturday, then a bullpen piece is likely gone before that game anyway. Keep an eye on this because there’s several ways it could still play out.

3) Who will be the backup catcher when Russell Martin returns?

I think the front office has already given us enough context clues to answer this question, but we’ll run through the two options just to cover the bases.

Right now the Jays have Luke Maile and Mike Ohlman on the roster. Maile can be optioned back to Buffalo, but Ohlman can’t without being exposed to waivers. So the options are either send Maile down to Triple-A and ride with Ohlman for now, or DFA Ohlman and keep Maile in Toronto.

At this point, it seems pretty obvious Ohlman’s in trouble for two reasons. First, Maile’s gotten almost all the starts since Martin’s gone down - Even day games after night games, a spot usually avoided with catchers. The staff seems to trust Maile’s defense and game calling so much more than Ohlman’s.

Secondly, the Jays just signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a minor league deal on Tuesday. They almost certainly did this because they plan to keep Maile and need an emergency option once Ohlman is potentially displaced out of the organization. In addition to this, shedding Ohlman will open up another spot on the 40 man roster, which the Blue Jays will eventually need if they want to activate Dalton Pompey and Glenn Sparkman off the 60-Day DL after the end of the month.

Regardless of how they play their cards here, the Blue Jays will be a better team when they return home with Tulo, Donaldson and Martin on the roster. The question now is if they will be able to maximize this roster’s potential.


Should the Blue Jays use a four man rotation as outlined above between May 21 and May 30?

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