Rotating things around
ST. PETERSBURG — You heard it here first, B.J. Ryan is now in the running for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation. I mean, why else would he start on Friday before Jesse Litsch and why else would the Jays not commit to Litsch being the No. 5?
"Yeah, we should convert him," quipped Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, joking about Ryan.
Ryan only started because the Jays wanted to make sure he got an inning done with rain clouds hovering overhead. Litsch followed with 4 2/3 innings in "relief" and gave up three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Litsch struggled with control, which isn’t good for a pitcher trying to wow Toronto.
Casey Janssen and Gus Chacin (a long shot at best, when camp opened) are both out of the running for the fifth, but Toronto continues to plead the fifth. Litsch appears to be the favorite, and manager John Gibbons and Arnsberg have both said they like him as the fifth, but their unwillingness to say he’s the clear frontrunner shows that the internal debate persists.
This could mean that the Jays have a trade in the works, or are merely unconvinced as an organization that Litsch can repeat what he did last season (3.81 ERA in 20 starts as a rook). Or, perhaps it’s just a way for GM J.P. Ricciardi to keep Litsch on his toes — keep the young pitcher from getting too comfortable out there.
With that rotation and the upcoming off-day in mind, here’s the tentative schedule through next weekend from Arnsberg:
Saturday vs. PIT: Roy Halladay
Sunday at MIN: Dustin McGowan
Monday at PIT: A.J. Burnett
Wednesday at BOS: TBA (Shaun Marcum Minor League game)
Thursday vs. NYY: TBA (Roy Halladay Minor League game)
Friday at DET: Jesse Litsch
Saturday at NYY: TBA (Dustin McGowan Minor League game)
Sunday vs. PHI: A.J. Burnett
Arnsberg wants to keep hiding his starts from the Yanks and BoSox, who play the Jays in the first two regular seaosn series. There’s also rumblings that manager John Gibbons is considering using a fifth starter on April 5 in order to give his starters an extra day of rest.
That’s all for today. I’m heading out. On the way back home, I’ll pop in the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols in honor of Wilner, who had never heard Anarchy in the UK before this spring.