Notes: Murphy added back; Espinal optioned

September 19th, 2020

The Blue Jays made a late roster move prior to Saturday evening’s game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, adding right-hander back to the roster.

Murphy had served as the club’s 29th man in Friday’s doubleheader, which the Phillies swept, and had been returned to the club’s taxi squad. In a corresponding move, infielder has been optioned back to the alternate training site and added to the taxi squad.

Murphy, now 25, is the club’s No. 19 prospect per MLB Pipeline and impressed in his Major League debut on Friday, throwing 1 1/3 innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts. Murphy’s fastball averaged 96.5 mph and his curveball, also graded as an above-average Major League pitch, flashed some excellent movement for his first time out.

As the Blue Jays continue to find success with shortening up their young starters into multi-inning relief roles, expect Murphy to follow that same path for the time being. Thomas Hatch and Julian Merryweather are the two best examples from the crowded bullpen group, and these types of arms allow the Blue Jays to bridge the gap from their starters -- who haven’t worked deep into games or faced many lineups a third time -- to the back end of their bullpen.

Espinal’s role on the roster had changed recently with the return of Bo Bichette and the improved play of Joe Panik, one of the club’s veteran leaders. Factor in Jonathan Villar and the versatility of Cavan Biggio at multiple positions, and it was the young Espinal who felt the squeeze.

As a rookie, Espinal has hit .267 with a .641 OPS while seeing time at shortstop, third base and even a couple of trips to the mound in blowout losses. He will remain an option for a playoff run given his versatility.

Good news on Dolis
Reliever Rafael Dolis left Game 2 on Friday with right knee discomfort after an awkward play at first base where his foot slipped off the bag, but he felt “fine” on Saturday, according to Montoyo.

It’s unlikely Dolis pitches Saturday, but he is being considered day-to-day and appears to have avoided an IL stint. Dolis has quietly been one of the best pitchers on the roster this season, posting a 1.59 ERA over 23 appearances along with four saves. Given the absence of closer Ken Giles and breakout setup man Jordan Romano, the Blue Jays will need to lean heavily on Dolis through late September and into October.