Could J.A. Happ's Pending Return Create Logjam In Toronto Blue Jays Rotation?

By Thom Tsang
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the Toronto Blue Jays‘ starting pitching carousel is spinning to a merciful stop.

There’s just one problem: there might just be too many people waiting in line.

Yes, you’ve heard that right — after losing just about the entire starting rotation due to various injuries, the Blue Jays might actually be looking at some unexpected — gasp — depth in the starting pitching department … and all of it could happen because of the looming return of one J.A. Happ.

That would be the same J.A. Happ that narrowly avoided grievous harm when his head had an unfortunate meeting with a line drive, and who sprained his right knee as he fell. Luckily, neither of those things have stopped the determined lefty who, according to multiple sources including ESPN and and A.J. Cassavell of, is aiming to return to the team by the All-Star break.

Considering that’s would make it merely a little more than a couple of months since his potentially disastrous injury, there’s perhaps a too much optimism with that prediction (as there often is with Blue Jays injury news); that said, all sources have indicated this week that the lefty is actually well on his way:

Now, of course, you’d have to assume that after all this, the Blue Jays aren’t just going to stick the 30-year-old in long relief duties, which is to say that there’s going to be an odd many out situation with the current starting rotation, which has been rolling as of late.

And unlike the Happ vs. Ricky Romero conundrum that the team faced headed into the season, this one might actually be more difficult to answer.

You wouldn’t think that’d be the case, though. After all, the team could simply shift Esmil Rogers, a long reliever in an unfamiliar role, back to the bullpen, right? That would work … if Rogers wasn’t impressing with each subsequent start anyway. He’s now built his arm strength up to 90-plus pitches, and owns a 1.71/0.95 ERA/WHIP over 21 innings as a starter, with opponents hitting just .200 against him.

So yeah, I can’t image the team simply choosing to part with that kind of performance.

The same could be said about Chien-Ming Wang, who was just coming a brilliant seven-inning shutout of the Texas Rangers in the Blue Jays’ weekend sweep of the AL West juggernaut. And of course, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson aren’t going anywhere either, while Brandon Morrow (who has no structural damage) still looms on the DL.

So while Happ’s return will be a heartwarming story for the bluebirds, considering that the lefty had a 4.91/1.55 ERA/WHIP along with a 5.18 BB/9 at the time he got hurt … the road back might not be as simple as being healthy, that’s all.

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