Jays' Rzepczynski no longer a starting candidate

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The final two spots in the Blue Jays rotation has become a three-horse race.

On Sunday, the field got whittled down by one when general manager Alex Anthopoulos announced that left-hander Marc Rzepczynski was no longer a starting candidate but now was in the race for a job in the bullpen.

The three survivors are rookie Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch and lefty Jo-Jo Reyes.

Litsch took a giant step in the right direction Sunday against the Twins, blanking them over 51/3 innings, with seven strike outs and no walks.

Impressive!

The news concerning Zep doesn’t come as any big surprise as others have thought his stuff to be more conducive to the bullpen than as a starter.

“We just feel that for what we need right now that we’re better off to have him compete for a spot in the ’pen,” Anthopoulos said of Rzepczynski. “We told him that to make this team his best chance at this point is to be in the pen at this time.”

The move may also have a lot to do with the questionable health of two veteran right-handers — Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel.

The probability that both will be placed on the disabled list later in the week is high. If that’s the case, then Zep will be a much-needed second lefty in the ’pen with David Purcey being the other. The other bullpens members would then be Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen and Carlos Villanueva.

Zep, of course, had no problem with the decision. He’d rather make the team, period, be it a starter or reliever.

Last season he made 12 starts and two relief appearances. Coming out of the bullpen he earned a hold both times and didn’t allow an earned run.

“The few times that I did it, I talked to Downs (former Jay Scott Downs) about it and we’re kind of the same, a two-pitch guy, a sinker-slider from me,” he said. “Talking to him helped me.”

Zep, 25, has a great slider and is capable of being a specialist who is called on to get the tough power-hitting lefty late in the game.


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