It’s one step forward, one step back for the Blue Jays.
While Josh Johnson is expected to return on Tuesday, the Blue Jays just announced that Brandon Morrow has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain.
Morrow left Tuesday’s start against the Braves after two innings with the injury. The Blue Jays were initially hoping that he would be able to bounce back to pitch tomorrow against the Padres, but it turns out that he’ll need some more time to recover.
Morrow is off to a disappointing start this season, posting a 5.63 ERA and 42/18 K/BB ratio in 54 1/3 innings over 10 starts. Toronto’s starters rank 28th in the majors with a 5.50 ERA. Only the Astros and Twins have been worse.
With Morrow out, the Blue Jays have brought back Ramon Ortiz to replace him on the active roster. In doing so, they removed left-hander Ricky Romero from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple-A Buffalo. This means that he passed through waivers unclaimed. Of course, that shouldn’t be a big surprise at this point, as he has a brutal 13.85 ERA and 3/20 K/BB ratio through four starts in Triple-A and is still owed around $19 million. But it’s the latest indication about how far he’s fallen.
The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.
This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.
The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.