Halladay, Downs added to crowded Jays' DL

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On the same day that their trainer was awarded a trip to the All-Star
Game, the Jays placed three more pitchers on the disabled list: Roy
Halladay (groin), Casey Janssen (shoulder) and Scott Downs (toe).

Those three join fellow pitchers Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin
McGowan and Robert Ray on the shelf for Toronto. The offense has
actually stayed remarkably healthy, with only backup catcher Michael
Barrett missing significant time due to injury. The Jays, though, are
missing four legitimate major league starters, two more guys who have
spent time in their rotation this year and a reliever who appeared in
line for an All-Star appearance.

Fortunately, Halladay is expected to miss the minimum two starts.
Janssen, who missed last year following shoulder surgery, may have been
bounced from the rotation if the Jays didn’t have reason to put him
back on the DL. Brad Mills is coming up to replace him and will make
his major league debut Thursday.

Mills, a 2007 fourth-round pick, gets his promotion despite starting
off 1-8 in Triple-A. He had a 4.48 ERA, which is actually quite good
for a Las Vegas pitcher. Still, as a modest flyball pitcher without a
true strikeout pitch, he could have a rough adjustment period ahead of
him. I think Brett Cecil would have been the better choice to step in,
but Cecil might follow him as the starting in Halladay’s place on
Saturday.

Downs was hurt Tuesday, when he stumbled out of the box while
grounding out in his first at-bat since 2004. He only hit because the
Jays scored five runs in the top of the 10th. He was the ninth and
final batter of that inning, and the plan was to send him back out for
the 10th, though the injury forced his removal.

The Jays now have a tough decision on whether to go back to B.J.
Ryan in the closer’s role. Ryan hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last
eight appearances, though he’s been pitching mostly in losing causes.
His stuff still isn’t nearly what it was last year. However, he does
have the experience, and as bad as he pitched in April, he never
actually cost the Jays a game. Both of his blown saves came in games
the Jays went on to win.

If performance to date this year is all that matters, then Jason
Frasor becomes the immediate favorite for saves in Toronto. Still, it
would make sense for Cito Gaston to pick his spots and give Ryan the
occasional chance in the ninth. The Jays need to figure out whether
Ryan is going to be a valuable piece in the pen going forward.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.