Wilner’s 25: Goins, Loup gaining momentum for Blue Jays roster spots

Hazel Mae and Arden Zwelling update on everything Blue Jays, touching on the progress of Josh Donaldson and the continuing debate of who should start on opening day.

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

Some changes to the roster guess this week.

The Blue Jays are being cautious with Devon Travis, who is still trying to recover from a bone bruise to his knee suffered during his rehab from off-season surgery. While Travis is looking great in batting practice and taking ground balls with everybody else, he’s still having issues with his lateral movement and his next-day recovery. There’s a very real possibility that he will open the season on the disabled list, and that’s the guess we’re making here.

The silver lining in starting the season with Travis on the DL is that the Blue Jays get to keep both Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins, who are out of options, without exposing either one to the waiver wire at the end of March.

Josh Donaldson appears just about ready to get into games, so there’s no concern about including him on the roster, and with Steve Pearce still unable to play the outfield, both Ezequiel Carrera and Melvin Upton Jr. must be kept until he can.

There’s a change in the bullpen as well, with John Gibbons firmly stating last week that the Jays’ preference is to have two left-handed pitchers back there. Aaron Loup, who is coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons, is impressing people this spring with both his velocity and command, and definitely has the inside track to be the second lefty, so he bumps Mat Latos off the list for now.

Latos needs to recover from his meltdown in Sarasota on March 8. Not only did Latos pitch poorly, more significantly he lost his composure and served up a three-run homer to light-hitting Craig Gentry in a fit of pique, attempting to show up a home plate umpire whose strike zone he (rightfully) felt was too tight. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see from someone who is trying to make a team, and something that would result in an immediate ticket out of town if it were to happen in a regular season game.

Latos, who is on a minor league deal, will have to work his way back with some solid outings in which he can also maintain his composure. There are still three weeks left of spring training, so there’s lots of time for him to do that.

The final spot in the bullpen continues to go to Bo Schultz, who pitched well in his one outing for the week, March 10 in Lakeland. Schultz threw a hitless inning, allowing a walk but getting a ground ball on the next pitch. He and Mike Bolsinger are both out of options, but Schultz remains the far more intriguing arm and it’s difficult to forget how he was the unsung hero of the Blue Jays’ bullpen in the summer of 2015, throwing 30 innings over 20 appearances from June 12 to Aug. 12 with a 0.80 WHIP and .218 opponents’ on-base percentage before he hurt his hip.

Pitchers (12 active, 1 DL)

Joe Biagini

Marco Estrada

Jason Grilli

J.A. Happ

J.P. Howell

Francisco Liriano

Aaron Loup

Roberto Osuna

Aaron Sanchez

Bo Schultz

Joe Smith

Glenn Sparkman (disabled list)

Marcus Stroman

Catchers (2)

Russell Martin

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Infielders (6 active, 1 DL)

Darwin Barney

Josh Donaldson

Ryan Goins

Kendrys Morales

Justin Smoak

Devon Travis (disabled list)

Troy Tulowitzki

Outfielders (5)

Jose Bautista

Ezequiel Carrera

Steve Pearce

Kevin Pillar

Melvin Upton Jr.