Rauch and Miller are outta here

Blue Jays reliever Jon Ruach underwent an appendectomy on Monday and was placed on the DL. (STEVE...

Blue Jays reliever Jon Ruach underwent an appendectomy on Monday and was placed on the DL. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters file photo)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:14 AM ET

SEATTLE - Jon Rauch and Trever Miller, the two Blue Jay pitchers who served up game-changing, back-to-back home runs in Monday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners, were both cut Tuesday.

Rauch’s incision came at the hands of a surgeon who removed his appendix Tuesday morning. He’ll recover to fight another day. Miller’s cut was probably more painful and his 13-year career may not survive being designated for assignment by the Jays.

“Before the game Rauch felt like he was having some stomach discomfort, and we’ve had some flu going around the clubhouse,” said manager John Farrell. “We had him checked by the trainers and the Mariners’ team physician. He checked out OK and felt like he was capable of pitching.

“After the game, the symptoms intensified and it was revealed that he needed to have his appendix removed (Tuesday) morning.”

Miller’s dismissal capped off one of his worst seasons as a professional.

“We were in a position where we felt like it was time to take a look at some other guys in the organization,” said Farrell. “Rommie Lewis has been throwing the ball well in Las Vegas and we want to see what he can do over the next six weeks.”

Lewis and Wil Ledezma were called up from Las Vegas to fill vacancies in the bullpen as Rauch was placed on the disabled list and Miller was DFAed, which is baseball’s quaint way of bidding you adieu.

So here was the dilemma Farrell faced Monday, a dilemma that exposed once and for all just how utterly bare the cupboard is in the Toronto bullpen. Exposed is probably the wrong word because it’s been quite apparent for some time.

It’s the eighth inning. His team is up 5-4. Jesse Litsch has already tossed two scoreless innings but now the Mariners have left-handed hitters Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp, the meat of the order coming up.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, this would have been Marc Rzepczynski’s assignment. A year ago, Scott Downs would have owned it. But since Rzepczynski was traded to St. Louis, there has been no clear choice to deal with tough left-handed hitters.

Probably the best weapon against lefties has been RHP Casey Janssen this season. He’s actually been quite a bit better in that situation than he has been against right-handed hitters. He has a personal on-base percentage of .263 against lefties, .342 against righties. Ditto for the batting average: .213 vs left-handed hitters, .273 against righthanders.

But Farrell was determined to play things by the book, perhaps influenced by the fact it would have been Janssen’s fourth appearance in six days. Or maybe he just wanted to force the issue. Lord knows, he must have realized Miller was overmatched.

Frank Francisco, whose reputation as a right-handed pitcher who owned lefthanded batters has been shattered this season (they’ve hit .326 with a .398 OBA), was hardly an option.

Farrell’s other lefty, Luis Perez, has struggled recently, giving up earned runs in each of his last three appearances. So, the job was left to Miller, whose best-before date as a situational lefty has long-since passed.

As recently as 2009, Miller limited lefthanded hitters to a .135 batting average and an OBP of .200 in more than 100 plate appearances with the Cards. That mastery started to elude him in 2010 and this year, at 38, he had been called upon to face 93 hitters (before his Monday outing) and 38 of them had reached base. That’s an OBP of .411. Worse, his OBP against lefthanded hitters this year has been worse than against right-handed hitters (.419 vs .406).

Miller immediately induced a grounder to third base to get Ackley, a tough out. But that’s where the high-wire act ended. Carp, who had already homered off starter Henderson Alvarez to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, crushed an 0-2 breaking ball that sat on a tee right in the middle of the plate for the game-tying solo shot to right.

Rauch, summoned to get right-handed hitter Casper Wells, then gave up the game-winning homer. Turns out he may have had an excuse.

In any event, after that debacle, Farrell now has two new lefthanded weapons, both of dubious distinction, in Lewis and Ledezma. They are placeholders until Alex Anthopoulos can rebuild the bullpen again this off-season.

“Right now we look at (Janssen) as the eighth-inning guy and (Francisco) closing. We’ll look also to match up and bridge wherever the starter takes us to those two guys, with Camp and Jesse Litsch.”

Rauch is expected back before the end of the season, probably about a month from now. Miller’s time in the bigs is probably at an end.


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