Besides the season-long—until recently anyway—home run barrage showering off the bats of Blue Jays hitters, the outstanding starting pitching has been the highlight of the season.

Along with Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil, Shaun Marcum has been outstanding just about every time he’s taken the mound.

Unfortunately, Marcum’s season is going to be taking an unexpected breather for at least the next couple of weeks. The elbow inflammation isn’t expected to be a major problem though, and Marcum should only miss one turn in the rotation thanks to the upcoming All-Star break.

That, coupled with the Blue Jays’ off day on Monday, means they won’t need another starter until July 10 if they send Cecil out on regular rest next Wednesday to take Marcum’s next turn.

In the meantime, that leaves the Jays with an interesting opportunity to play around with an extra roster spot for the next six games. With seven men already in the bullpen and Monday’s aforementioned off day, they don’t have to add another pitcher.

If the Jays are intent, however, on adding a pitcher, one pitcher worth taking another look at is left-hander Jesse Carlson. Just looking at his 4.91 ERA—never a good idea, by the way—you’d be inclined to think he’s the last or close to last option for a call-up. The rest of his numbers look much better though.

He’s struck out 30 batters against just eight walks in 33 innings. His 4.04 tRA is a good deal better than the PCL’s league average 4.84, and his FIP is a healthy 3.65.

He was also useful in 127 big league innings in 2008 and 2009 with a combined 3.52 ERA and 3.90 FIP. Carlson also showed effectiveness versus righties (4.03 FIP, 2.52 K/BB) as well as left-handers (3.78 FIP, 2.53 K/BB). If he came up and was effective, he would make lefties Scott Downs and Brian Tallet that much more expendable at the trade deadline.

The more interesting option would be to call up another position player, under the understanding that Cito Gaston would be implored to use him. This would be the perfect time to get a short five- or six-game look at either Brett Wallace or J.P. Arencibia before the All-Star break.

Five or six games is too short for serious evaluation, of course, but it could be a way for one of them to come up without the added pressure of replacing a veteran like John Buck or Lyle Overbay.

If either were brought up, they’d need to get out there and play every day to make it worth the trip. Wallace could be slotted in pretty easily either by splitting the six games between first and DH or perhaps two games apiece at third, first, and DH.

The Blue Jays have a four-day break for the All-Star Game, as they don’t get back to work until Friday the 16th. That gives the Jays two more weeks to possibly move Lyle Overbay, at which point Wallace would never have to head back down to Las Vegas.

Likewise, calling up Arencibia to make a four- or five-game debut would give him his first taste of the majors in a slightly lower pressure environment. If he comes up thinking he’s headed back down no matter how good or bad he does, he just might be all that more relaxed—if being relaxed making your big league debut were an option, but you get the point.

Just in the same way things could work out for Wallace, either catcher, be it John Buck or Jose Molina, could be dealt in the next two weeks, leaving room for Arencibia to stick around. The Jays would be able to work around the extra position player if they chose to pitch Brian Tallet on Saturday the 10th and go with a six man ‘pen for three or four days headed into the break.

Watching one of your team’s top pitchers go down is never enjoyable, but with the way the schedule breaks over the next two weeks, the Jays could give their fans something to keep them interested while he’s on the shelf.

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