Blue Jays enter ALDS decider without left-hander in bullpen
By Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are not expected to have a left-hander available out of the bullpen for Wednesday's decisive Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Rangers at Rogers Centre (4 p.m. ET Sportsnet/FOX Sports 1).
Aaron Loup is not with the team because of a personal family issue, while Blue Jays manager John Gibbons maintained Wednesday that David Price will not be used as a reliever for the second consecutive game.
Price came out of the bullpen in Game 4 and tossed 50 pitches over three innings. The Cy Young candidate later said he would be ready to pitch in the series finale, but Gibbons doesn't see things quite the same way.
"He's thrown a lot of innings this year, he helped get us here, he was up Sunday night, I knew if we got him into the game Monday and he was going to get in somehow ... he wouldn't be available to pitch today," Gibbons said Wednesday afternoon. "I won't abuse him, he has done a [heck] of a job for us here. I think we'll advance and he'll get to pitch again."
Right-hander Marco Estrada will be available out of the bullpen, if necessary. Estrada helped save Toronto's postseason in Game 3 by limiting the Rangers' offense to one run over 6 1/3 innings. He enters Game 5 on two days' rest, but could make a brief appearance instead of throwing a bullpen session between starts.
Estrada's availability will help, but Gibbons now faces the difficult task of trying to piece together a bullpen that doesn't include a lefty. Texas has five left-handed hitters in its starting lineup for Game 5 -- Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, Josh Hamilton and Rougned Odor -- which could cause problems for Toronto.
Right-hander Ryan Tepera has favorable splits against lefties this year, but he hasn't been used in high-leverage situations for weeks. Primary setup men Aaron Sanchez and Mark Lowe have experienced some difficulty against lefties, which likely means the Blue Jays will attempt to get more than three outs from closer Roberto Osuna if they have a late lead.
"We prepared that he is available," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Price. "I'm not going to assume that he has any player over there that is not available. So we'll prepare for it. And if we don't see him, we don't see him. And if we do, we'll be prepared for it."