5/23/2014 8:15 P.M. ET
Looking for stability, Blue Jays shuffling 'pen
By Jamie Ross / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The revolving door of the Blue Jays' bullpen has swung open and closed for most of the season, and it continued to do so this week.
The club recalled lefty Rob Rasmussen on Tuesday, after optioning Marcus Stroman to Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday. Then on Friday, the Blue Jays designated Esmil Rogers for assignment and selected the contract of starter Liam Hendriks.
The departure of Rogers leaves the 'pen with only one long man -- Todd Redmond --- but the addition of Rasmussen gives them another left-handed arm along with Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil.
"We've got one less guy that can go for multiple innings, but we should be all right," said Gibbons. "Rasmussen, he can throw a couple of innings [in relief]. He used to be a starter at one time. If the team needs him to throw a couple of innings, he can do that. It will probably help him out in the long run, anyway."
Dustin McGowan can also provide multiple innings of relief work, although Gibbons said he didn't want to force him into a long reliever's role. McGowan began the season in the starting rotation, but he joined the bullpen May 15 after experiencing fatigue and longer-than-expected recovery periods between starts.
The bullpen has been through its shares of ups and down this year, but the return of closer Casey Janssen, who missed the first five weeks of the season with an oblique injury, has helped stabilize things, Gibbons said. Since his return, Janssen has made six scoreless appearances, recording three strikeouts and just one walk in six innings entering play Friday.
"They've been real good," Gibbons said of the bullpen. "Casey is a key guy. He's been perfect so far. It kind of moves everybody down a little bit. He's been really good the past couple of years."
Toronto aiming to improve at Rogers Centre
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays entered a 10-game homestand Friday with an eye on improving their record at Rogers Centre.
The American League East leaders carried a 16-11 road record into their weekend series against Oakland, but were 10-11 on home turf.
They'll have to improve that record if they hope to contend for the rest of the season in the always-competitive AL East, manager John Gibbons said.
"You usually want that home cooking, but when it comes down to it, you've got to play good at home, and the teams that eventually win something dominate at home," said Gibbons.
Toronto will hope to ride its hot bats through the next three weeks, which will consist of 16 home games in a 19-game span. The Blue Jays lead the American League in home runs with 67, and sit fourth in the AL with 235 runs entering play Friday.
That offense will come in handy in those home series.
"We've got some pretty good pitching coming in," said Gibbons. "Tampa [Bay], Kansas City, Detroit, St. Louis -- we're going to be tested by the pitching we face."
Toronto's pitching will also need to see improvements over the home stretch. So far in 2014, the team's pitching staff owns an American League-worst 5.00 ERA at home and a 1.55 WHIP entering play Friday.
Gibbons said he's at a loss as to why Toronto -- and the American League East, for that matter -- has struggled at home.
"It's kind of [messed] up," said Gibbons. "You never know. You just got to play good at home. We've been hot on the road, and we need to pick it up at home."
Rogers DFA'd to make room for Hendriks
TORONTO -- As a result of his prolonged struggles in the Blue Jays' bullpen, hard-throwing righty Esmil Rogers was designated for assignment on Friday.
In a corresponding roster move, Toronto selected the contract of Liam Hendriks, who started against Oakland Friday night at Rogers Centre.
"He's been scuffling, we had to make a move," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "And we want to get a look at [Rob] Rasmussen and keep him up here and see what he can do."
Rogers' woes were well documented this season, but the club was reluctant to demote the right-hander, because he has no Minor League options remaining on his contract. That fact alone was enough to keep him on the 25-man roster, but it became increasingly difficult to justify his role. The 28-year-old posted a 6.97 ERA in 16 relief appearances this season.
Asked what the sources of Rogers' struggles were, Gibbons said: "I've got no idea. If we'd known that, we could've fixed it."
In his last outing, Rogers came in with a five-run lead against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He allowed three hits and three earned runs, lasting one-third of an inning before being replaced.
Gibbons said he couldn't pinpoint the breaking point that led to Rogers' demotion, but the recent changes to the makeup of the bullpen -- which includes the addition of Rasmussen and Dustin McGowan, who began the season as a starter -- made it necessary.
In Hendriks, the Blue Jays have at least temporarily filled the fifth spot in the starting rotation, which was left vacant when McGowan's role changed.
"[Hendriks is] a control guy," said Gibbons. "He'll throw everything at you. We liked him in Spring Training."
Hendriks was off to a solid start in Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 1.48 ERA in nine games (seven starts) with the Bisons. The 25-year-old native of Australia has appeared in 30 career Major League games in parts of three seasons. The Blue Jays claimed him off waivers from the Twins during Spring Training.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.