(props to anyone who gets that reference without the aid of Google)
So, how about a six man rotation? Seven? Eight? Soon the Jays might be addressing the sticky wicket of "too much pitching."
After Brandon Morrow redeemed himself tonight from the Boston Massacre, we are back to a place where we have apparently four rotation spots locked in and the fifth not exactly begging to be replaced. It is a given that Marcum and Romero are untouchable, and it seems at this point pretty unlikely that Cecil or Morrow are going to be pushed aside. Eveland, though he seems certain to be the fall guy, has a 2.23 ERA this year against all teams not based in Boston.
Still, that only opens up one spot. The problem is we need at least two and that's assuming Uncle Clarance can get over his man-crush on Brian Tallet.
Here's the scenario:
Jesse Litsch completed his second rehab start at Dunedin today and will move up to AA for his next apperance likely on May 21. If he gets two starts there and moves up for at least one in Vegas, then he'll be potentially ready to be activated soon after he's eligible on June 3. The Jays have a series against Litsch's home-town Rays in Tampa on June 8-10, and if he started twice in Vegas his next turn would fall in that getaway game on June 10.
But wait! There's more!
LH Marc Rzepcyznski will get his first rehab start in Las Vegas Tuesday night, according to the National Post's John Lott. This comes per Alex A who adds that Brian Tallet will also get a rehab start in Vegas near the end of the week. If Zep gets two Vegas starts, he'd be in line to return to the Blue Jays rotation as early as May 28 vs. Baltimore. But if Zep bumps Eveland, then whiter Jesse Litsch?
For the sake of this discussion we have to assume Tallet returns as a reliever because if not, we're going to have to delve into quantum physics or something to solve this equation.
What to expect? Well, given the Jays' history over the last few seasons, expect more injuries to solve the problem. But barring that, my hunch is that when the Jays activate Zep he'll remain in the AAA rotation until something happens to change the situation (and thus they will prefer to have Litsch return to the rotation for now).
When Litsch and Tallet are back on the team, it's my hope that the Jays find a trade partner who'll be interested in making a small investment in Dana Eveland (presumably an NL team that doesn't have to play Boston). Doing so makes for a clearer path to the rotation for Zep and rewards Eveland for the progress he made this year. (on a similar but unrelated note, I'd like to see the Blue Jays try to place Ruiz with an offensively challenged club like Seattle when EE comes back, rather than just toss him aside - not that I'm under any illusion that he has trade value - just think it would be nice if they give him a little boost)
Mind you, I'm not arguing for or against the idea of Litsch taking precedent over Zep - I'm just pointing out that it seems the most likely outcome.
One thing that might be well observed here though - last year's surprise start fizzled in large part because of injuries in the rotation (from the high point of the early surge down to the all-star game, a stretch of 50 games, 12 of them were started by youngsters who were not ready or recovering injured pitchers - and 11 were started by Brian Tallet who posted a 5.14 ERA over that stretch). If the Jays find themselves plagued by injuries again, having Zep backed up at AAA (to say nothing of Mills and other options) is a much better situation.