Steve Helber/Associated Press
The Toronto Blue Jays called up United States Army veteran Chris Rowley to start Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Rogers Centre.
On Friday, Keegan Matheson of MLB.com passed along comments from the pitcher about the journey to his first chance to play in the major leagues.
“I don’t think that it’s something I understand the magnitude of,” Rowley said. “It’s something that I’m trying to appreciate, but at the same time, I think that I have a job to do. I’ve got to go out and do that.”
Rowley signed with the Blue Jays organization after going undrafted in 2013. He made nine appearances in the Gulf Coast League that season before missing the next two years for active military duty.
The Atlanta native returned to Toronto’s minor league system in 2016 and has spent the past two years quickly working his way up the ladder.
He’s made 27 appearances, including 11 starts, between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double A) and the Buffalo Bisons (Triple A) so far this season. He’s posted a 2.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 90 strikeouts in 106.1 innings across those stops.
Now, at age 26, he’s set to make his MLB debut with the league’s only team not based in the U.S. He joked that’s something he thought about.
“Definitely,” Rowley said with a laugh, per MLB.com. “There’s a huge sense of nationalism that goes into both of the professions that I’ve been in, I know in the United States Army and now the only Major League Baseball team in Canada.”
A solid start against the Pirates on Saturday could put him in line to stay in the rotation for the stretch run of the regular season. The Jays, who rank 17th in starters’ ERA, have lacked stability at the back end of their starting staff all year.
Rowley’s versatility could also put him in line to serve as bullpen depth when rosters expand Sept. 1 if Toronto doesn’t keep him in the rotation.