2024-04-21 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Yariel Rodriguez, the Cuban sensation

Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports |

If inconsistency was a baseball team, then the dictionary definition would simply be the Blue Jays’ logo. It’s midway through April, yet this team has already shown the world that the peaks are high and the valleys, well, the valleys are quite low.
One day after being throttled by the lowly Colorado Rockies, Toronto turned to their biggest off-season acquisition to right the ship - Yariel Rodriguez, the Cuban sensation.
He wasn’t perfect, but if today’s performance was any indication of what Rodriguez will provide the Blue Jays, then he’ll be a fine addition to the staff. Sixty-eight pitches over eleven outs, six of which being strikeouts. A little bit of trouble here and there, plus one hanging slider that Brenton Doyle pummeled, but other than that Toronto’s newest arm looked pretty damn good.
With Rodriguez’s arrival, Bowden Francis’ time in the starting rotation has come to an end - at least for the time being. A promising Spring followed by an underwhelming start to the year likely preempted his move to the ‘pen, though a return to relief could do wonders for his confidence given the sustained success in the latter parts of 2023. Whatever the case, a tandem pairing of Rodriguez-Francis could be in play for at least the next two times through the rotation, or until Rodruguez’s pitch count is built up.
On the offensive side, Daulton Varsho hit his second home run of the last two days, this time a grand slam off Rockies’ starter Dakota Hudson as part of Toronto’s five-run first inning. After that…well, not much at all. A meager 5-3 win, but a win nonetheless.
In addition to Rodriguez arriving to the Majors, the duo of Erik Swanson and Jordan Romano appear to be quickly making their way back to active duty; both threw on Saturday for Buffalo (alongside Alek Manoah). Brian Serven’s days with the Major League club may be drawing to a close soon too, as Danny Jansen is inching ever closer to re-joining Toronto as he continues to make rehab appearances with the Bisons. Righties Mitch White and Nate Pearson are the prime suspects to be demoted - or in White’s case, DFA’d - once Swanson and Romano return, though Bowden Francis could also be considered purely to allow him to consistently start in AAA. Paolo Espino was optioned to make room for the aforementioned Rodriguez.
Following Sunday’s finale against Colorado, Toronto will face New York in a three-game set before heading on the road for a week against San Diego and Kansas City. The hope remains that Toronto’s rehabbing reinforcements will arrive at some point against the Yankees, though no specific target date has been announced.
Yariel Rodriguez’s next start lines up to be Friday against the Padres, with his pitch count likely increasing to roughly 85. A shortened Spring Training combined with limited time in Buffalo will likely push back a full release of his arsenal by a start or two.
Rodriguez is the first Cuban pitcher to start a game for Toronto in the history of the franchise, with the only other pitching appearance made by DH Kendrys Morales in a 2018 blowout against the Oakland A’s.
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By: Gus Cousins


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