Timing of latest elbow injury is troubling for both Giles and Blue Jays

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TORONTO – Just days ago, Ken Giles was looking forward to what the rest of the season had in store for him. After six weeks on the sidelines, he was finally back in action, eager to contribute to a paddock that had done well without him. As the postseason approached, there was reason to believe Giles could be a difference maker once the games meant the most.

Instead, he’s back on the injured list with the same injury that landed him there in the first place, officially described as a right flexor strain. This time around, he’s likely to keep him there for the rest of the season, setting up an uncertain first chance of free agency for the 29-year-old and leaving the Blue Jays without their closest indefinitely.

“He gave his all and it didn’t work out,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Wednesday afternoon. “That’s how he felt today. I don’t think he’s coming back this year, but it’s speculation. I don’t know this for a fact, but there isn’t much time left.

After facing the Yankees on Tuesday night, Giles told the Blue Jays he’s not feeling quite right. Luke Voit had one homerun, but he was otherwise effective, striking out three of the four Yankees he faced on just seven shots. Still, the speed that usually sets him apart just wasn’t there.

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Last year, when Giles worked his way through an occasional elbow inflammation en route to a stellar season, his fastball was averaging 97 mph. 93.3 mph Clearly, this trend was going in the wrong direction.

An MRI taken on Wednesday could reveal more details, but at this point it’s clear the Blue Jays can’t count on Giles to return. Technically speaking, he would be eligible to pitch against the Orioles for the last two games of the season, but Montoyo didn’t seem optimistic about that possibility.

For a paddock that Jordan Romano also misses, it’s a big blow (Romano hasn’t thrown a mound yet, so he’s not close to returning either). While the Blue Jays had hoped to return Giles to a significant leverage role before the end of the season, they will now have to look elsewhere with the game on the line. At this point, Rafael Dolis is perhaps Montoyo’s most reliable arm. at the end of the round, although Anthony Bass is also part of this discussion.

Either way, it’s another challenge for a Blue Jays field that has exceeded expectations throughout the season. Beyond Dolis and Bass, Montoyo has Thomas Hatch, Ryan Borucki and AJ Cole. While Julian Merryweather was used a lot in the early stages of games, his material is playing against any hitter, at all times.

Plus, the Blue Jays have reinforcements coming. Matt Shoemaker faced live hitters on Wednesday, pitching more than two mock innings and increasing his pitching count to 45. It’s conceivable that his next outing could be in a big league game.

“We’ll see how he feels after that and then we’ll take it from there,” Montoyo said.

Meanwhile, in Rochester, Nate Pearson faced live hitters on Wednesday afternoon, a sign he is close to a return to play. How the Blue Jays use him remains to be seen and there is still work to be done. to do for the right-hander, but with a fastball that can hit triple digits and a hard slider, Pearson certainly has the weapons to take down his opponents late in the game.

In other words, it’s a big loss for the Blue Jays, but they are apparently positioned to handle as the playoffs approach. For Giles, the impact is far greater – and a reminder that timing is all in free will.

Had Giles reproduced last year’s numbers – a 1.87 ERA with 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.9 marches per nine innings – he would have been one of the best free agent relievers. available. The three-year, $ 39 million deal Will Smith secured from the Braves a year ago would have been a reasonable benchmark.

Now his outlook is linked to upcoming medical tests. While a qualifying offer might have been imaginable at the start of the year, this possibility has vanished over the past two months. Considering Giles pitched more than his share of dominant innings in seven big league seasons, the timing must be frustrating.

“It doesn’t help me look too far into the future. Does it worry that this has happened? Absolutely. Because I wanted to repeat what I did last year – a short season or not, ”Giles said on Saturday after returning to action. “But overall I can’t get down to the ground because I can’t complain. If I compete the best I can and show that I am in good health, I think all questions will be answered.

For Giles and the Blue Jays, those answers aren’t what they wanted.



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