After Francisco Liriano pitched all of 0.1 innings in last night’s game against the Rays, the Jays were forced to bring in some bullpen reinforcements for tonight’s game. Per Shi Davidi, the team has optioned Dominic Leone, and called up Casey Lawrence:
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) April 8, 2017
Leone was solid in his Blue Jays’ debut last night. The right-hander was the first reliever into the game, facing a bases loaded situation in the 1st inning. Leone allowed one of his inherited runners to score. He gave up another run in the 2nd. All in all, it was a solid performance, considering that the score could have been much worse. Leone gave the Jays 2.2 fine innings, which ultimately allowed Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini to have the night off. The fact that Leone was optioned also speaks to how the front office views Ryan Tepera. Tepera grew accustomed to making the trek back and forth from Buffalo last summer. However, since he won the final bullpen spot over Mike Bolsinger to start the season, it appears as though he is management’s preferred choice for the time being
Lawrence will make the trip from Buffalo down to Tampa tonight. Originally scheduled to start for the Bisons today, Lawrence will instead get his first taste of the big leagues. That first pitch will be a special moment. The 29-year-old has been a career minor leaguer, as he has spent seven seasons in the Blue Jays’ farm system. Last season, he sported a 3.83 ERA over 87.0 innings at AAA. I originally thought that Lawrence would be first in line to provide starting pitch depth. However, the choice to go to him right now, instead of Mat Latos or Mike Bolsinger, indicates that he will likely take on the Tepera role for this season.