Right-hander Brandon Morrow will take another step forward in his rehabilitation by throwing a side session on Friday, but it seems unlikely that he will be able to return before the middle of August.
Here’s a quick peak at where a couple of our starters sit with respects to their rehab assignments:
Brandon Morrow – He hit the DL on May 28th with soreness in his right forearm and failed miserably during a rehab stint in June and had to shut things down for a while. Morrow threw a side session earlier this week and was schedule to throw another one today. He says he is throwing completely pain free now. Morrow, 28, will have to pitch in a few rehab starts to build up his pitch count and the Jays have announced they are targeting a mid-August return (barring any setbacks). Morrow thinks the forearm issues are related to his cutter – a pitch he developed in Spring Training and used frequently early this season. It’s not uncommon for pitchers to develop forearm inflammation if they throw too many cutters. The question I have is why is Morrow experimenting with a new pitch when he had an ERA under 3.00 last season? If it ain’t broke……
J.A. Happ – The Jays would like Happ to get into his first rehab start this weekend. Happ hasn’t pitched since being hit on the head by a line drive on May 7th. His head injury healed rather quickly but he sprained his knee when he fell to the ground and it’s been nagging ever since. Happ has been throwing bullpen sessions and participating in long toss with the aid of a knee brace, but he hasn’t been able to attempt to field his position so wasn’t pitching in game situations. He recently started sprinting and appears he is ready to go. Happ could be back late July if all goes well.
For a team that needs to play over .600 to have a shot at the playoffs, going 3-4 on its most recent road trip just isn’t going to cut it. It’s tough, though, when the rotation is in tatters. But injuries or not, the Blue Jays need to win games.
Tomorrow the Jays return home for 3 vs. the Rangers. We have to go 2-1 which means we either need to beat Yu Darvish on Saturday (Mark Buehrle might just do it) or we need Esmil Rogers to step up big time in tomorrow’s series opener. While R.A. Dickey has been far from a lock so far this season, coming off a classic performance yesterday, I feel that the Jays should have a definite advantage when Dickey toes the rubber to close out the series on Sunday.
To win 90 games which would give the Jays roughly an 80% shot at the postseason, they have to go 65-38 the rest of the way (.631 baseball). Yikes.
Although a friend of mine reminded me that the A’s were under .500 at the allstar break last season and went on to win the AL West. Not an easy task. So it’s possible for the Jays to make a run.
I also saw an interesting stat in Sportsnet magazine. Every team has injuries, so it’s hard for fans, coaches, and players to use injuries as an excuse for the Blue Jays situation. But here is the stat: at May 10th (when the article was published), the Blue Jays had 10 players on the DL. To put that into some perspective, the Red Sox had 4, the Orioles 6, the Rays 3, and the Yankees a whopping 11. So the Jays can’t complain, right? The Yankees have just as many injuries, are still performing, and well into a divisional race.
WRONG! Of the Yankees on the DL, only 36% are pitchers. In fact, no team in the MLB has a higher percentage of pitchers on the DL if you take the DL’ed pitchers divided by the total players DL’ed on a team. The Jays are at 90%! Also, no team has more than 7 pitches on the DL other than the Jays (9 pitchers on the DL). Of the 11 Yankees on the DL, only 4 are pitchers (which is 2nd most in the AL East after Toronto).
We all know pitching is the key to success. And right now, the Jays pitching staff is hurting. Getting Josh Johnson back healthy is huge. Having Dickey pitch healthy is huge. Now we just need Brandon Morrow and J.A Happ to come back and we’ll be set to make a run. With the rotation healing, I’m not counting out a Blue Jays run just yet.
Only a couple hours after posting that both R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson were on track to make their next scheduled starts on Friday and Saturday, the Blue Jays have place Johnson on the 15-day DL due to persistent triceps inflammation. Johnson has undergone an MRI which shows no structural damage, but after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday, the Jays appear to be taking the cautious route with the soon-to-be free agent and shutting him down temporary.
Johnson’s DL stint is retroactive to his last big league appearance so there is a change he only misses one more start. However, after skipping two starts, you have to wonder if the Jays will want him to do a minor league rehab assignment. Sergio Santos hit the DL earlier this season with a similar injury to his triceps and it was originally thought he would be ready to come back as soon as his stint was over. Well, it was over last week and he still isn’t back.
Ricky Romero has been called up for the Jays to pitch tomorrow in Johnson’s place. This is an interesting move since Romero only has one start in single-A this year after numerous bullpen sessions to work on his new throwing mechanics. I think the Jays are rushing Ricky back, but I guess they feel he is the best available option. With a 10-18 start and needing to play close to .600 baseball for the remainder of the season to have a shot at the playoffs, I suppose they don’t have much of a choice.
Unfortunately for Romero, in his return to Toronto he draws Felix Hernandez of the Mariners to pitch opposite him. King Felix is 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA so far this season. Let’s hope he has confidence in his new mechanics.
The silver lining in today’s news seems to be that Dickey also underwent an MRI this week and looks good to go for his start on Saturday. He is still suffering for a sore back and neck but said it didn’t feel as bad as it has after his latest side session. The MRI reveal slight inflammation but no serious injury. Dickey plans to continue to pitch through the pain.
I really thought Johnson would be one of the best, if not the best pitcher on the Jays staff this season. He still has a chance to be since the season is only about 15% complete, but he’ll have to come back quickly and then avoid the DL. In a contract year, he’ll be itching to prove his health and value, so look for good things when he comes back. If injuries persist, the Jays might be able to sign him to an extension for a year at a discount so he can prove his health and value next season before hitting the free agent market.
I keep telling a co-worker that starting with the win on Tuesday, the Jays will play .600 ball for the remainder of the season. It would be a good start by taking the series tonight (Happ vs. Dempster) and grabbing 2 of three this weekend vs. the Mariners.