Blue Jays set with wealth of pitching depth

Blue Jays set with wealth of pitching depth

Blue Jays set with wealth of pitching depth
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Blue Jays will be without right-hander Jesse Litsch for at least the next eight to 10 weeks because of a shoulder injury, but the club appears to have plenty of depth to help fill the void.

Litsch, who underwent orthroscopic surgery last week to clean up an infection in his right shoulder, was in contention for one of the final two spots in Toronto's bullpen.

Those two jobs likely will be handed to Carlos Villanueva and Luis Perez, but even if someone else goes down with an injury, there are relievers ready to step in if needed.

"You can never have enough pitching," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I know that's an old cliche, but pitching is a game of attrition and it's going to change either because of performance or physical challenges that arise."

In addition to Villanueva and Perez, the Blue Jays also have Joel Carreno, Evan Crawford and Rick VandenHurk on their depth chart. The club also possesses the likes of Chad Beck, Danny Farquhar and Jim Hoey ready for the Major Leagues, but they are projected to start the year in Triple-A Las Vegas.

In the starting rotation, Toronto has a set starting five of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan, but there are plenty of others ready to step in if needed. Aaron Laffey and Kyle Drabek are the first fill-in options, while top prospects Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins aren't far off.

It's by far the most depth the Blue Jays have had during general manager Alex Anthopoulos' tenure in Toronto. Just like any other club, Toronto hopes to remain healthy.

"You have to prepare to have seven to nine starters that are Major League-capable at some point in the year," Farrell said. "And at least four or five other interchangeable guys that you can count on to come up and pitch out of the bullpen and contribute."