The Toronto Blue Jays are opting for experience over upside in their starting rotation. The team optioned promising left-hander Daniel Norris to triple-A Buffalo Friday, promoting Andrew Albers to the bullpen and shifting Marco Estrada to the starting rotation to restructure a pitching staff still seeking answers.
Norris started Thursday, pitching three scoreless innings while displaying shaky command against the Cleveland Indians. On the season, he posted a 3.86 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 12 walks in 23.2 innings spanning five starts as a member of Toronto’s rotation.
The 22-year-old went through a ‘dead-arm phase’ in April before shutting the Tampa Bay Rays down April 25 for the best start of his MLB career. Still, he didn’t consistently command the strike zone the way he did in spring training on his way to earning a spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation.
His demotion opens a spot in Toronto’s starting rotation for Marco Estrada.
Though Estrada has a below-average fastball, he keeps hitters off-balance with a deceptive change-up. He has pitched in six games for Toronto, posting a .084 ERA with 11 strikeouts and five walks in 10.2 innings of relief. Acquired for Adam Lind last off-season, the 31-year-old started at least 18 games per season for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2012-14.
Meanwhile, Albers joins the Blue Jays’ bullpen and provides much-needed length after a taxing game Thursday. The 29-year-old has a 3.09 ERA with 12 strikeouts and six walks in four starts spanning 23.1 innings with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. While his fastball has averaged just 86 mph at the MLB level, he has kept walks to a minimum with just 2.0 per nine allowed in parts of seven minor league seasons.
The addition of Albers means the Blue Jays have five Canadians on the roster including Russell Martin, Dalton Pompey, Michael Saunders and Jeff Francis.
To make room for Albers on the 40-man roster, Toronto moved infielder Maicer Izturis to the 60-day disabled list.