TORONTO – Scott Diamond, who grew up cheering for the Blue Jays in Guelph, Ont., joined Toronto’s heavily-taxed pitching staff Monday.
The Blue Jays have officially selected the contract of Diamond, who has pitched well with triple-A Buffalo since signing a minor league deal with Toronto in November. The 29-year-old started 12 games for the Bisons, posting a 3.16 ERA over the course of 74 innings while striking out 37 and allowing 14 walks.
Though Diamond has yet to pitch in relief at the MLB level, he starts his Blue Jays tenure by replacing Pat Venditte in Toronto’s bullpen. Diamond last started June 7 at Rochester, meaning he’s fully rested should the Blue Jays require multiple innings.
Sunday’s 10-9 win over the Baltimore Orioles required four innings of relief on a day closer Roberto Osuna was unavailable. Venditte, Jesse Chavez, Jason Grilli each threw 20-plus pitches in the contest, after which manager John Gibbons acknowledged that many of his relievers are “on fumes right now.”
Adding to the strain, the Blue Jays are in the midst of a stretch where they play 17 games in 17 days. Their next off day isn’t until June 20, after four games against the Philadelphia Phillies and three more games in Baltimore.
By optioning Venditte to triple-A, the Blue Jays created a 25-man roster spot for Diamond. To create 40-man roster space for the out-of-options Canadian, the Blue Jays transferred left-hander Franklin Morales to the 60-day disabled list.
Diamond debuted for the 2011 Minnesota Twins and became a fixture in their starting rotation by 2012, when he posted a 3.54 ERA in 173 innings. Despite a modest strikeout rate (4.5 K/9), he succeeded by limiting walks effectively (career walk rate of 2.3 BB/9) and generating ground balls (50 per cent ground ball rate). He struggled in 2013, however, and hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since.