Blue Jays fans have dealt with some bad days and weeks since the team opened the book on this season. However, this week could be among the worst of an already-disappointing season.
The biggest news of the week was the gruesome-looking injury to starting pitcher J.A. Happ in Tampa. The lefty was hit in the head by a line drive which landed with a sickening sound and left the crowd silent. Happ admits that he was fortunate to escape with only a skull fracture behind his left ear that doctors believe will heal on its own and a twisted right knee from his fall. While Major League Baseball is forced to deal with yet another head injury to a pitcher and the corresponding debate over head protection, Happ will be out 4-6 weeks.
Johnson was off to a horrendous start in his first (and possibly last) season in Toronto, posting a 6.86 ERA, 1.88 WHIP and 2.11 K/BB ratio over four starts. Two weeks ago he began experiencing some triceps soreness and the Jays shut him down for “precautionary reasons”. However, today the news broke that Johnson’s injury was more serious than first thought and he will be out of the lineup until June.
The hard-throwing righty has been one of Toronto’s most consistent starters over the last few seasons and looked to be turning a corner after a shaky start to the season. But with the team in Boston for a weekend series at Fenway against the Red Sox, Morrow was noticeably absent from the team. Originally scheduled to pitch today (Friday), Morrow’s start has been pushed back to Sunday to give him some more time to recover from spasms in his upper-back. Though the injury is reported to be minor, Morrow’s injury history raises some more concerns.
*UPDATE*: Morrow has been pulled from his Sunday start and Chad Jenkins will pitch in his place.
The injury to Johnson (and later Happ) left a big hole in the rotation which management felt that Ricky Romero could fill. The former All-Star and staff ace lost his job in the starting rotation during spring training and has been working on his delivery and mechanics in Florida since, appearing in only one minor league game.
Nevertheless, circumstances led to his (seemingly premature) recall. He pitched in his first major league game of the year a week ago, going three strong innings before the wheels fell off and he gave up three runs in the fourth. His second start was much worse, lasting just one-third of an inning and giving up 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs. GM Alex Anthopoulos conceded that he brought Romero back too quickly, and the southpaw has been sent to AAA-Buffalo to continue to try and rebuild his mechanics, confidence, and career.
Lawrie has been stuck in a rut. On the season, he is hitting .179 in 22 games and his on-base percentage is a miserable .247 to go along with 25 strikeouts in 84 at-bats. Consequently, he spent Thursday taking extra BP before issuing a provocative tweet: “All u people who chirp when things don’t go good have never done anything in pro sport .. Ever .. So shut ur mouths #LetsGetThisThingg #jays.”
Lawrie soon thought better of his mistake and deleted the tweet, but it shows his frustration and that he is still only 23 years old and has some maturing to do. Lawrie, as a Canadian boy, is one of the team’s most popular players, but boneheaded moves like this are not a great way of endearing himself to an already-stretched fan base.
Osuna is seen as one of the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospects, and is ranked #2 in the system by MLB.com. The 18-year old was forced out of his latest start at A-Lansing with discomfort in his right elbow. He was later diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and the concern is that the promising fire-baller (mid-90s fastball) will require Tommy John surgery. In five games with Lansing this season, he was 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA.
The speedy outfielder has been (sadly) one of Toronto’s most consistent hitters and the usual base-stealing demon thus far. Last night in Boston he was pulled from the game after suffering a left oblique strain which he tweaked during the series in Tampa. After seeing how long Brett Lawrie’s oblique injuries have kept him out, be ready for another extended absence.