Using the Toronto Blue Jays and playoff baseball in the same sentence in the past would have been viewed as contradictory. Assuming the Blue Jays continue their torrid pace, or even finish the rest of the jaunt playing .500 baseball, playoff baseball is all but a formality, although the way the scenario currently levies, just qualifying for the wild-card game will be a major disappointment for us north of the border. From my baseball viewing lifetime, I've never followed the Blue Jays while they were a competent baseball team, as from a 1995 Ed Sprague to a 1998 Jacob Brumfield, some of my all time favourite Jays weren't able to levitate the squad to respectability. Now, led by the "Bringer of Rain" himself, former Oakland Athletic Josh Donaldson, the Jays are playoff bound and the subject I wanted to discuss is my opinion how John Gibbons should, not necessarily will construct the playoff roster.
Russell Martin and Josh Thole- Although most won't likely agree and the vast majority will be calling for the slower than slow Dioner Navarro to be included on the roster, the simple truth is their is NO chance the Blue Jays employ three catchers on the roster with Russell Martin being the every day guy behind the dish with Thole as per usual, exclusively working R.A Dickey's start(starts).
Justin Smoak, Chris Colabello, Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Goins, Cliff Pennington, Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson,-The infielders were quite easy with the only player complicating matters is rookie Devon Travis. Travis had a blazing start to the 2015 campaign but a recurring shoulder injury hampered his productivity and ability to stay on the field. My thoughts pertaining to Travis is that the Jays are better served shutting down Travis in lieu of ensuring he is fully ready to go for the 2016 season, even though my opinion may differ when it comes to a certain much aligned pitcher that I'll discuss when I get to the pitching portion of this article. The other reason for why the decision to shut down Travis is amendable is due to the flexibility and increased productivity of super infielder Ryan Goins. Goins, if the unthinkable happens to the likes of Tulowitzki or Donaldson, can be slid in and masterfully fill in defensively on the left side of the infield. When it comes to the year long first base platoon of Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello, I don't think their's any doubt that they both get included on the roster as a hot Smoak can battle righties while Colabello can come in versus lefties if needed, but I'd be surprised if the direction John Gibbons didn't go wasn't primarily Justin Smoak, at least for game one and then re-assessment could take place.Getting back to the left side of the infield, this organization will ultimately ride or die with Tulo and J.D, so the Jays will fly as far as these two take them.
Jose Bautista,Ezequiel Carrera, Kevin Pillar,Ben Revere, Dalton Pompey- To answer the elephant in the room, why would the Jays even slightly consider including Dalton Pompey on the playoff roster? That's right, the same Pompey who back in April after initially being named the teams starting centerfielder who made Jackie Bradley Jr. look like a hall of famer will be included for one reason and one reason only. He can run! Far too many Blue Jays will be travelling with the team come October that it's safe to say were never world class sprinters, ie Tulowitzki, Smoak, Colabello, Edwin etc etc so the need of Pompey is especially emphasized as this team might as well be re-branded as the Toronto Slow Pokes. Bautista,Pillar, Revere with Carrera being the fourth outfielder as per usual.
Marco Estrada, R.A Dickey, David Price, Mark Buehrle- To be utterly honest, part of the motivation behind this piece this evening was in response to Sportsnet Fan 590's Mike Wilner who was on Prime Time Sports with guest host(might as well be permanent with the volume lately) Jeff Blair, and he was asked this very question that I'm about to answer, and that's precisely who the Jays starters should be granted they'll have the time to set the rotation to their liking? Well, unlike Wilner, I would not include Stroman in the mix even if he shows further readiness in his Buffalo AAA outing. In game one, you brought in David Price for this very reason so naturally Price will start game one or the wildcard crapshoot. Game two is where much debate ensues, and for me Marco Estrada at this rate deserves to be given the ball from Gibbons. Game three would be the knuckleballer Dickey because he's been Zack Greinke hot in the second half. If the Jays are fortunate enough to hold a two games to one lead prior to game four, you start the veteran southpaw Buehrle, but down a game you go back to the prized acquisition Price.
Aaron Loup, Brett Cecil, Mark Lowe, Roberto Osuna, Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman-Some might consider this going off the deep end, some may consider I have left the deep end long ago. To each their own. The three names that pop out will be piling Hutchison in the pen, not starting Stroman, and the inclusion of Loup. I'll try to answer these three issues to the best of my abilities. Pertaining to Loup, I just feel as if you need a second lefty in the pen come playoff time. I don't expect John Gibbons to instill the confidence to throw him out there in a meaningful inning but at the same time enlisting Loup as a shut down lefty is commendable in order to shut down the Eric Hosmer's of the world. Now for the million dollar question, and I partially eluded to this earlier, is Marcus Stroman in the bullpen the best for the Blue Jays in 2015? I think some people, including the close minded at times Wilner will take into consideration what Marcus wants, but what Mike and other Jay supporters have to realize is accommodating into Marcus' wants is not something they can afford to do in 2015, that's a more of a 2016 thing to do. Marcus is an eccentric individual and has repeatedly gone on record, but ironically it may be best employ a tactic that was used on his current team mate and former Tampa Bay Ray Price back in their World Series year of 2008. Price the young stud was brought into the bullpen and wouldn't that be a brilliant second chapter in the story of Stroman for him to come in for the seventh inning before the ball gets handed over to Sanchez and Osuna? The final spot(the last spot for a righty) came down to LaTroy Hawkins and Drew Hutchison. Back in 1999, as a member of the Minnesota Twins I saw Hawkins start so I have a close knit appreciaton for the vet LaTroy as that was my first ever baseball game but it's important that impartiality take full effect which is why the not so road warrior Hutchison wins out. Hutchison has been very good and if it wasn't for the depth in the rotation would be a candidate to start. He's your ideal long reliever and quite honestly I'm content with this. Hawkins just hasn't shown enough to be trusted in the all important games.