Josh Thole

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Blue Jays pick up option on Josh Thole; decline on Justin Smoak, Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan


It’s all Blue Jays, all the time at HardballTalk today.

The Blue Jays announced this afternoon that they have exercised their $1.75 million club option on Josh Thole for 2015 while declining options on Justin Smoak ($3.65 million), Brandon Morrow ($10 million), and Dustin McGowan ($4 million).

Smoak is the most noteworthy one in this bunch, as he was just claimed off waivers from the Mariners earlier this week. While the Blue Jays declined his option, he is still under team control for one more season and will now go through the arbitration process. He’s expected to fill the role of Adam Lind, who was traded to the Brewers today.

Morrow will receive a $1 million buyout and become a free agent. The 30-year-old has great potential, but injuries have limited him to just 87 2/3 innings over the past two seasons. McGowan has had health issues of his own in recent years, but he managed to throw 82 innings this season between the rotation and the bullpen — his most innings since 2008 – while posting a 4.17 ERA and 61/33 K/BB ratio. However, the Blue Jays opted to cut ties with a $500,000 buyout.

Thole owns an ugly .213/.289/.261 batting line over two seasons with the Blue Jays, but he’ll stick around as R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher.

Scoring change shaves 16 points off of Felix Hernandez’s ERA

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays

A scoring change with Cy Young implications has just been made. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that the scoring of a fifth-inning bunt by Josh Thole has been changed from a single to an error charged to Hernandez. As a result, Hernandez has been charged with four earned runs instead of eight, lowering his ERA from 2.34 to 2.18.

Hernandez will make his final start of the season on Sunday against the Angels, his final opportunity to pad his Cy Young candidacy. Along with the now-2.18 ERA, Hernandez heads into the start with a 14-6 record and a 241/46 K/BB ratio. Corey Kluber, his stiffest competition for the hardware, won his league-leading 18th game on Friday night and owns a 2.44 ERA with 269 strikeouts (which also leads the league). Both versions of WAR, at Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, give Kluber the edge over King Felix as well.

Munenori Kawasaki and his .288 career slugging percentage are batting fifth for the Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays' Kawasaki celebrates his RBI single against Baltimore Orioles during their MLB game in Toronto

There are a lot of ways in which I could describe how bad the Blue Jays’ lineup is for tonight’s game, but here’s the easiest one: Munenori Kawasaki, a light-hitting utility infielder with one home run and a .288 slugging percentage in 234 career games, is batting fifth.

Toronto’s lineup starts out really well: Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind. That’s a helluva first four hitters.

Then comes Kawasaki batting fifth, followed by Dalton Pompey, Anthony Gose, Josh Thole, Ryan Goins.

Oh, and here’s the kicker: They’re facing Felix Hernandez. Good luck, boys!