Another Blue Jays season is underway and just 5 games in, fans already have their scapegoat of the year.
Expectations for Roark were pretty low before he took to the mound for the first time this season in front of a large gathering of fans in Texas when the Blue Jays took on the Rangers last night. The sense on social media before the game is that we might be in for a long night, and right they were.
So far in his Blue Jays tenure, Roark has gained a reputation of giving away the long ball, and that didn’t change in Texas. Gift pitch after gift pitch, the Rangers smacked three home runs before Roark was yanked in favour of Tommy Milone after going just three innings in his 2021 debut.
Three innings, three home runs, five runs. Balls were simply being thrashed around the park. Even when Roark did manage to get an out, the ball was well hit and on a couple of occasions, just short of yet another home run. Ten of the 13 balls put in play against Roark were hit 95 mph or harder, according to Statcast. You can likely count on one hand all the pitches that Roark was able to locate in his opening start of the campaign. It was an awful night to put it lightly.
Under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t read too much into one single game, especially with the marathon nature of baseball, but one thing became increasingly clear last night; you can not put Roark on the mound every five days and expect to win the baseball game. Something needs to be done so sure up the end of the rotation, and thankfully for the Blue Jays, that something is coming soon.
Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson, and Thomas Hatch are all currently on the 10-day injured list for the Blue Jays and will be back at some point for the club. According to Keegan Matheson of MLB.com, Ray is the closest to returning with Pearson and Hatch to follow. All three of these options should be considered legitimate for replacing Roark in the rotation at some point.
Additionally, the Blue Jays sent Anthony Kay to the alternate training site at the end of spring training and should soon be getting a chance of being a starter on the club. Despite some ups and downs both in the spring and with the Jays previously, he is still young and figures to have some kind of role going forward.
Also mentioned by Mattheson in his article are two players currently in the minors in Simeon Woods-Richardson and Alek Manoah, but neither seems like they will be added to the roster in the near future. It might be a little too soon to bring them on board this time around, but they should be kept in mind further down the road if a situation like this rears its ugly head once more.
Some fans will also talk about the option of outside help. That too could be a possibility, but only after the inside options are proven to not work. With Hyun-jin Ryu and Steven Matz looking really good to open the season and other options in Ross Stripling and T.J. Zeuch serviceable, there are only one or two holes to fill.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that the headlines have been mostly positive so far this season. A record of three wins and two losses isn’t the greatest, but it’s still early. The offence has looked good at time and poor at others, but as the weather warms up you can expect that to get better. The pitching staff is the real question mark, and Roark is at the centre of it, but if they can find a replacement sooner rather than later, it would greatly improve the team.