Now the tinkering begins in earnest.
With 22 games left in the regular-season schedule – or about five months until the start of spring training if you are so inclined – now is the time for the Toronto Blue Jays to try to figure out what they might want to do for next year.
The Blue Jays began their second-last home stand of the season Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners and the Rogers Centre was a vast sea of empty blue seats as only 12,935 bothered to show up to watch two losing squads.
The Mariners (68-74) prevailed, rewarding a solid outing from starter Erasmo Ramirez (1-2) with a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays (64-76).
Brandon Morrow (8-6) took the loss, allowing all four Seattle runs off 11 hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Although the Blue Jays entered the game on a relative high, their modest winning streak having reached four games following a sweep of the Red Sox in Boston, Toronto’s season stopped being relevant from a won-loss perspective weeks ago.
And so, with just three weeks left to go, it is Blue Jays manager John Farrell’s time for a little lineup experimentation with an eye toward 2013.
Which is why for Wednesday’s game against the Mariners rookie Anthony Gose will make his first start in left field since his minor-league call-up on July 17.
And, a little further down the road, rookie Chad Jenkins will get his first big-league start.
Jenkins has been used exclusively out of the bullpen since his call-up in early August and has performed well, allowing eight earned runs over 17 innings while striking out eight.
But Jenkins was drafted in the first round in 2009 as a starter and with J.A. Happ the latest Blue Jays starter to be felled by an injury (broken foot), the Blue Jays have a need.
Farrell said on Tuesday that Jenkins will get one of the starts on Sept. 24 when the Blue Jays are scheduled to play a doubleheader in Baltimore.
As for Gose, he has seen the majority of his playing time in right field what with the wrist injury curtailing the season of Jose Bautista. Gose started his 19th game in right on Tuesday.
Although Gose, 22, is projected as Toronto’s centre fielder of the future, that spot is also sewn up with Colby Rasmus under contract through 2014.
If Gose is to make the team out of spring training next year it might have to be as a left fielder, which has been a bit of a revolving door for Toronto.
Eric Thames started the season as the everyday left fielder, an experiment that lasted about two months before his unproductive bat was sentenced back to Triple-A.
The Blue Jays have also used Travis Snider and, most recently, Rajai Davis, as regulars in left this season.
Davis is sending strong signals that he won’t give up the everyday job easily.
Although he has a tendency to make things exciting out in the field, Davis has exhibited a good arm, throwing out two more Seattle base runners on Tuesday.
In the first inning Davis threw out John Jaso, who ignored the stop sign from third base coach Jeff Datz, at home plate that kept the score to 2-0 for Seattle.
Jaso was victimized again in the third inning, trying to go first to third only to be gunned down by Davis, who with eight outfield assists this season is among the American League leaders.