Blue Jays ponder wild-card pitching options as playoff push continues | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Blue Jays ponder wild-card pitching options as playoff push continues

September 26, 2016 - 2:56 PM

TORONTO - As the Blue Jays continue their push towards the playoffs, the team's braintrust ponders its options on pitching once it reaches its post-season destination.

With Boston holding a 5.5-game lead in the American League East going into play Monday, a wild-card berth seems the most likely route into the post-season. Toronto held a 1.5-game edge over Baltimore prior to play Monday with the Orioles set to open a three-game set Tuesday at the Rogers Centre. Detroit was 1.5 games back of Baltimore.

Spicing up the schedule is the fact Toronto's final series of the regular season is three games in Boston starting Friday.

The AL wild-card game is slated for next Tuesday. Manager John Gibbons says his rotation is in good stead as the season nears its end.

"Oh yeah. Really you look at our whole staff, they've all been pretty damn good," Gibbons said before Monday night's series finale with the New York Yankees. "They've been steady all year. You've got a couple of guys who've been better than others, no doubt.

"Sometimes you can't always plan things the way you want necessarily, but if we do get in I think we can run anybody out there and feel pretty good."

Left-hander J.A. Happ, who went into Monday's start with a 20-4 record, and right-hander Aaron Sanchez (13-2), who starts Tuesday against Baltimore, lead the rotation. Marco Estrada (9-9), Francisco Liriano (8-13) and Marcus Stroman (9-9) also figure in a Jays rotation that leads the AL in quality starts (95), innings pitched (950.1), ERA (3.72), opponent's average (.237) and several other categories.

Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (10-15), who has been displaced in the rotation by Liriano in recent days, is also an option.

Sanchez, Liriano and Stroman are slated to pitch against Baltimore. While Estrada, Happ and Sanchez are primed for Boston, Gibbons said he could adjust his weekend rotation to save a pitcher for the wild-card game "if we could afford to do that."

Dickey could be sent into start Sunday to preserve Sanchez for the wild-card game.

Gibbons said he'd like to have a couple of starters fresh and ready for the wild-card game in case "something happens early because it's only one game."

Sanchez had success against Detroit, with Gibbons noting the Tigers' batting lineup is primarily right-handed.

"Baltimore's pretty even," he said of the Orioles hitters.

"We'll sit down and talk to the coaching staff, figure out who's available, what the best way to go is," he added.

"Bottom line, let's get there first," Gibbons cautioned of the wild-card talk.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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