The Toronto Blue Jays have lost a piece to the back end of their rotation. They’ve placed right-handed pitcher Yariel Rodriguez on the 15-day injured list. The injury reported is thoracic spine inflammation. Rodriguez had dealt with some back soreness during his start against the Kansas City Royals, and it’s serious enough to land him on the IL.

Yariel Rodriguez Injury Comes During an Inconsistent Run

Rodriguez, 27, was signed out of Cuba to a five-year, $32 million contract before this season. It’s his first season in the United States and the Blue Jays organization. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Rodriguez, but the talent seems to be there. He started the season in Triple-A but found himself on the major league roster soon enough. During his last start, he surrendered two earned runs across 3.2 innings. He struck out one while issuing three walks. Due to the walks, he had to exit a little earlier than anticipated, as he sat at 82 pitches and didn’t have his best with him. With the big club, Rodriguez has an 0-1 record with a 4.11 ERA across 15.1 innings. The trouble for him is deep counts, causing higher pitch counts. He does have 16 strikeouts in his four starts this season, so he does have the ability to generate swing-and-miss.

Zach Pop Recalled

The corresponding move to Yariel Rodriguez heading to the IL is recalling Zach Pop from Triple-A Buffalo. Pop, 27,  has enjoyed a promising start to the season with a 1.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 9.2 innings. His time in the big leagues with the Blue Jays in 2023 could have been better, with a 6.59 ERA over 13.2 innings and 14 strikeouts.

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The Blue Jays will have to find a fifth man in the rotation, but they do have some time to do so. A few upcoming off days could let them work around the need for a fifth man. With Alek Manoah working through rehab outings, it’s likely the team could turn to him when they need him. However, he’s been a shell of himself since his All-Star campaign in 2022.

The Blue Jays pitching staff has had some health issues in their depth pieces, and depending on how Manoah rebounds, the team’s next steps could be dictated by that. For now, the rotation will consist of the four players who were with the team to begin the season: Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi.

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