BOSTON -- The Blue Jays are expected to add another piece to their bullpen Wednesday afternoon with the likely return of right-hander Joe Smith.Smith has been out since June 14 with soreness in his right shoulder. He made a pair of recent relief appearances for Triple-A Buffalo, with the latest
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays are expected to add another piece to their bullpen Wednesday afternoon with the likely return of right-hander Joe Smith.
Smith has been out since June 14 with soreness in his right shoulder. He made a pair of recent relief appearances for Triple-A Buffalo, with the latest outing a scoreless inning Monday night.
The tentative plan is for Smith to return from the disabled list for Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox.
"He threw [Monday] night and felt great, looked good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said before Tuesday's 5-4, 15-inning loss to the Red Sox. "I would expect [Wednesday] unless something changes."
Smith is expected to be one of at least two roster moves the Blue Jays will make before Wednesday's game. Toronto used seven relievers Tuesday, and the club likely will need a couple of fresh arms to survive the rest of the week.
Right-hander Cesar Valdez, who is scheduled to start for Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday, is one candidate, while another is reliever Chris Smith. It's not immediately clear who the Blue Jays will send down to make room but Dominic Leone is a logical candidate. Right-hander Mike Bolsinger is out of options, but he has been designated for assignment twice this season and could be at risk of making it a third.
Further complicating matters is that Francisco Liriano left his last start after just two-plus innings because of a sore neck. He's tentatively scheduled to pitch again Thursday and the Blue Jays will need to have a full bullpen ready to go in case his injury resurfaces. Bolsinger would have been the ideal insurance policy, but that might not be possible after he tossed 3 1/3 innings Tuesday.
"[Liriano] threw a bullpen and felt really good," Gibbons said. "If he comes in [Wednesday] and feels great, he should be good to go ... unless something changes overnight."
Regardless of what happens, Smith's presence will only help fortify a bullpen that has become one of the club's biggest strengths. Dennis Tepera and Danny Barnes have emerged as viable options in high-leverage situations, while Smith was having a borderline All-Star campaign with a 2.64 ERA before allowing three runs in his final outing before going on the DL.
Add in Joe Biagini, lefty Aaron Loup and closer Roberto Osuna, and the Blue Jays have a solid foundation. Even more beneficial is that Smith is the only pending free agent out of the group, which is one of the main reasons he continues to be mentioned in rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"You look at what Joe was doing, he was pitching a lot, but he was dominating," Gibbons said. "We missed him and then it was a bigger workload and the other guys had to step into that role. They all did a really good job with it and now it just adds that one more guy. Biagini is down there, too, two very good pitchers in those roles. It makes us that much stronger and you can stay away from [overworking] certain guys."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.