Wilner’s 25: Bo Schultz worth keeping despite early struggles

Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman talks about how he is feeling heading into the World Baseball Classic and representing Team U.S.A.

Every week until opening day, Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner will take his best guess as to what the Blue Jays 25-man roster will look like when the season opens April 3rd. Here’s the second of five weekly thoughts on who Mike thinks will be heading north:

A week and a half into the Grapefruit League season and the Blue Jays are 2-7-1, with some issues answered and some still very much open for debate.

The roster crunch in the bullpen has settled some with the injury to Glenn Sparkman. A fractured thumb means that the Rule 5 righty will not be able to open the season healthy, so we know that he starts on the disabled list. The injury also allows the Blue Jays to delay the decision on whether to keep him or offer him back to the Royals, at least until he’s healthy and ready to be activated. Since the stakes are so high – keeping or losing a potential asset – we know that Sparkman will likely have more time than one usually needs to recover from this setback.

Josh Donaldson has continued to improve from his early-spring calf strain, and there appears to be no doubt that he’ll be ready to answer the bell on Opening Day. He’s probably going to start appearing in Grapefruit League games within the next two weeks.

Steve Pearce is looking as though he’s on track to break camp healthy, as well. He’s a couple of weeks away from playing defence in a game, but has made a couple of appearances at DH and has looked good at the plate.

The question about Devon Travis’ health remains, though. He’s working hard, but the bone bruise in his surgically-repaired knee is healing slowly. Should he start the season on the disabled list, it would allow the Blue Jays to keep all of Darwin Barney, Ezequiel Carrera, Ryan Goins and Melvin Upton, Jr.

I’m not yet ready to give up on the idea of Travis starting the season on the roster. That may change as the spring progresses.

It’s never a good idea to look too deeply into results, but at the very least, Mat Latos appears to be rewarding the Blue Jays’ faith in him in the early spring. He’s looked dominant, facing 12 hitters over two outings and retiring 11 of them.

As far as the out-of-options relievers, Mike Bolsinger has appeared in three games, throwing 2 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts. He got hit hard in his last outing, Saturday against the Twins, allowing a mammoth home run to Miguel Sano and a laser beam double to Max Kepler into the teeth of a very strong wind. He also walked a pair.

Bo Schultz has also appeared in three games, also throwing 2 2/3 innings. He’s allowed five runs, three of them earned, on six hits, with no walks and one strikeout.

The difference is that Schultz has been more unlucky than bad. He allowed four hits in two-thirds of an inning in Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay, all singles, only one of which was hit hard. The other two hits he allowed, against the Tigers on March 1st, were a bloop and a little looping liner, also both singles.

For me, Schultz remains the more intriguing arm, results or otherwise. Bolsinger gives the Jays more length out of the bullpen, having been a starter in the majors, but the Jays can also get that length out of Latos or even Joe Biagini. It’s tough to give up on an arm like Schultz’s.

However, the possibility definitely exists that the Jays could choose not to keep either one of Bolsinger and Schultz, and instead take a reliever with options, like Chris Smith or Ryan Tepera, or even a second lefty in Matt Dermody or Aaron Loup. For now, though, I’ll stick with Schultz.

Pitchers (12 active, 1 DL):

Joe Biagini

Marco Estrada

Jason Grilli

J.A. Happ

J.P. Howell

Mat Latos

Francisco Liriano

Roberto Osuna

Aaron Sanchez

Bo Schultz

Joe Smith

Glenn Sparkman (disabled list)

Marcus Stroman

Catchers (2):

Russell Martin

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Infielders (6):

Darwin Barney

Josh Donaldson

Kendrys Morales

Justin Smoak

Devon Travis

Troy Tulowitzki

Outfielders (5):

Jose Bautista

Ezequiel Carrera

Steve Pearce

Kevin Pillar

Melvin Upton, Jr.