Toronto's starting staff has been in limbo since the middle of June, when right-handers Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison were all placed on the 15-day disabled list within the span of five days.
The Blue Jays began planning ahead on a day-by-day basis, but following an off-day on Thursday, the new starting five has taken shape. Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez and Brett Cecil entered as the three with guaranteed jobs, while Jesse Chavez and Aaron Laffey have now entered the mix.
"Right now, the way we have it lined up is for Chavez to start on Sunday, Alvarez on Monday and Laffey on Tuesday," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "That's the way it's going right now, but as we have all seen, things can change. If something happens in a game and we need someone, we have to adjust."
Chavez seemed all but guaranteed to receive another crack at a starting job, but Laffey's inclusion comes as somewhat of a surprise. He won out over right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who will continue to serve in a long-relief role as the club looks to capitalize on his versatility.
Alvarez was tentatively scheduled to start Sunday in Miami, but has been pushed back a day to make room for Chavez. That also enables Alvarez to make a start at the beginning of the week against division-rival Boston.
"He'll be on his regular fifth [day]," manager John Farrell said of Chavez. "We wanted to get Henderson against the Red Sox. A little bit more of a sinkerballer in that ballpark. The comeback could be, 'Well he's put an awful high number of balls in the air,' but he's pitched well against them previous, and we're going to go in with what we feel are our best three starter matchups against Boston."
The Blue Jays face the daunting task of trying to remain competitive in the AL East while competing without three-fifths of their preferred starting rotation. The onslaught of injuries have forced Anthopoulos to explore both the waiver wire and trade route for potential upgrades, but the third-year GM won't necessarily be pressed into making a move.
"It's challenging, there's no doubt about it," Anthopoulos said. "But I'm sure if you sit with the other 29 GMs, they have their own challenges. Other teams have had their position players go down. At the end of the day, you just put your head down and accept the challenge and do what you can.
"We can't get it fixed overnight. We're going to continue to try. I don't know when the next transaction will take place, but you have to continue to move forward."