By Gregor Chisholm and Brittany Ghiroli
ARLINGTON -- It wouldn't be postseason baseball without a little gamesmanship. Just ask Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
Gibbons declined to state whether closer Roberto Osuna would be available for Game 1 of the American League Division Series vs. the Rangers on Thursday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT on TBS, as well as Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) in Canada). He simply said: "If it's the ninth inning and it's a save situation and he's not in there, well, you know why."
Osuna's availability heading into this series was a question mark because of a right shoulder injury. It's not considered serious, and Osuna was placed on the 25-man roster to keep Toronto's options open. But exactly when he'll be ready to pitch remains in doubt.
"It's not something they can pinpoint," Gibbons said when asked for specifics on the injury. "Really, it just grabbed him the other day. It tightened up on him and you have to be cautious. You think back, Boston on Saturday night, he threw two innings. He came that day game and threw an inning to close it out.
"One day off and then he was out there for an inning-plus, he has been throwing a lot. Any time a kid feels something, and that's not normal for him, you have to be a little concerned. But after getting checked out, we don't think it's a big deal."
If Osuna is not available, the Blue Jays are expected to go with a closer-by-committee situation in tight ballgames. Gibbons said he didn't have a specific guy in mind, and that it would depend on which relievers are needed to get Toronto to the ninth inning.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano will see an increased role in the Blue Jays' bullpen. It's possible he would be used for multiple innings in middle relief, and he also is a candidate to pitch the ninth. The other likely candidate is veteran reliever Jason Grilli.
Osuna has pitched in all but four of Toronto's previous 11 games, and he tossed 8 1/3 innings over that stretch while throwing 156 pitches. According to Osuna, the medical staff told him he wasn't "hurt," but instead was experiencing fatigue, which led to a stretching sensation in his shoulder.
The heavy workload down the stretch appears to have taken a toll, but there's also a good chance that if he wasn't used that much, the Blue Jays would not have reached the postseason. It was a catch-22 situation.
"That's a balancing act," Gibbons admitted when asked about the workload.
Donaldson an Aaron finalist Josh Donaldson, last year's Hank Aaron Award winner for the AL, is again a finalist for the honor.
The award, which has recognized the most outstanding offensive performer in each league since it was established in 1999, was given to Donaldson and Washington's Bryce Harper in 2015.
In 2016, Donaldson batted .284/.404/.549 with 37 homers and 99 RBIs. The 30-year-old has been a key part of the Blue Jays' lineup, scoring 122 runs and playing in 155 regular-season games.
For the seventh year in a row, fans have a say in the winners of this prestigious award, with the ability to vote online at MLB.com and the 30 club sites through Oct. 14. For the first time in the award's history, fans can also cast their votes on Twitter by using a unique hashtag for each finalist, with #VoteJosh giving Donaldson a vote.
The winners of the 2016 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the 112th World Series.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.