LOS ANGELES — Determined to continue developing Sean Reid-Foley as a starter, the Toronto Blue Jays stripped down their already threadbare rotation to just two pitchers by demoting the right-hander to triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday.
Jason Adam was recalled from the Bisons to take his spot and bolster the relief corps ahead of a bullpen game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a move that comes on the heels of Thomas Pannone’s demotion Tuesday, leaving Jacob Waguespack and Trent Thornton as the only starters on the roster.
Asked who’d fill the upcoming openings Saturday and Sunday in Seattle, manager Charlie Montoyo replied bluntly, “I don’t know.”
General manager Ross Atkins suggested that Brock Stewart was a candidate to return as the bulk pitcher behind opener Wilmer Font on Saturday, and mentioned Clay Buchholz (shoulder inflammation) as someone who could soon find his way into the mix.
Buchholz, who Sunday threw four innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts with single-A Dunedin, is slated to make his fourth rehab start later this week with Buffalo, and the Blue Jays could simply return him early.
Reid-Foley’s inconsistency helped leave the Blue Jays in their current predicament, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks in 1.2 innings as the bulk pitcher versus the Dodgers in Tuesday’s 16-3 trouncing. He was also messy his previous time out against Texas, when he allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in 3.1 innings.
Against the New York Yankees on Aug. 9, Reid-Foley flashed his upside by allowing a run on five hits and two walks over five innings against the New York Yankees. But with their pitching in such a precarious state, the Blue Jays simply can’t afford to ride the roller-coaster right now.
“Really, it’s a matter of wanting to help him find his consistency again,” said Atkins. “His command just hasn’t been the same. He was so good in ’18 and really hasn’t been nearly as consistent this year at triple-A or here. He understands and gets that.
“There is some development that will still occur here, but we have to be getting outs. We don’t see him as a reliever, so we felt as though to continue to give his best effort to be a starting pitcher it didn’t seem to be the best environment here.”
In 18 games at Buffalo, all but one starts, Reid-Foley has posted a 6.26 ERA with a 1.573 WHIP and an alarming 6.8 walks per nine innings. Some of the numbers are better in the big-leagues — a 4.26 ERA, a 1.705 WHIP and a walks-per-nine rate of 6.0 — but the Blue Jays need to get him to a place where they have a better idea of what they’re going to get when he takes the mound.
“He’s got to command his pitches,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “He’s got the stuff to pitch in the big-leagues, we all know that, but you’ve got to command. Even more when you play teams like (the Dodgers), walks are going to kill you, that’s when they’re going to get you. You’ve got to throw strikes.
“He knows he’s got the stuff to pitch here. We told him that. But now you’ve got to command your pitches and throw strikes.”
While one school of thought is that both the Blue Jays and Reid-Foley would be best served by a move to the bullpen, Atkins still views that as a potential “fallback plan.”
“We just still feel he has a chance to start,” he said, “and we want to exhaust that.”