Following the recent struggles of Yusei Kikuchi, attention has turned to how the Toronto Blue Jays will proceed with the starting pitcher who was signed to a three-year, $36 million contract prior to this season.
Kikuchi is 2-4 with a 5.08 ERA in 14 starts this season and has struggled recently, posting a record of 0-3 and a 9.39 ERA in June.
ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney joined First Up on TSN 1050 on Tuesday morning and weighed in on how he expects the Blue Jays to handle Kikuchi’s role going forward, including a possible move to the bullpen.
“There’s a long time to figure it out. Having known [general manager] Ross [Atkins] for as long as I have and having known [team president] Mark [Shapiro] for as long as I have, I think they will err on the side of patience,” Olney said.
“When you give a guy a multi-year deal, you’re not going to turn the page permanently halfway through the first season of that deal. That’s just the way it goes. They should take some heart in the fact they are in a good place in the standings. Without having talked to Ross specifically about Kikuchi, I can’t give you a great answer on that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they do make an adjustment here, at least temporarily, to buy him some time to figure it out.
Kevin Gausman provided much-needed stability for the Blue Jays on Monday, striking out 10 batters in seven shutout innings in a 7-2 win in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox.
Toronto is also reportedly adding veteran reliever Sergio Romwho was released by the Seattle Mariners earlier this month.
Olney views Romo as a “lottery ticket,” however he says the Blue Jays would have nothing to lose in bringing Romo aboard.
“[Romo] is someone who for years and years and years has thrown about 45 per cent sliders … the problem for him this year has been his two-seam fastball. He’s gotten absolutely destroyed,” Olney said.
“… It surprised me this year to see how much more he has thrown his fastball because typically he’s always been a very slider-heavy guy and I wonder if that’s the beginning of the first conversation the Blue Jays had with him. … Given the fact that he is 39, given the fact that his ERA is almost nine (8.16) for this year, I’m sure they are open-eyed to the possibility he might be nearing the end of his career, but why not. If someone else is paying the freight on him … then you might as well give him a shot.”
Entering tonight’s game, the Blue Jays are 41-32 and hold the second of three wild-card spots in the American League.