By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Blue Jays pitching staff should be better this week, gaining a closer and potential ace, as Frank Francisco and Brandon Morrow are scheduled to return from the disabled list.
Both pitchers threw at Class A Dunedin on Sunday and are scheduled to re-join the team later this week. Francisco is scheduled to join the team Tuesday when the Yankees come to town. Toronto plays tomorrow morning in Boston for Patriot's Day.
Morrow, 26, was 10-7 with a 4.49 ERA last season, his first in Toronto and first as a full-time starter. Those numbers were from a pitcher just getting used to starting -- from June through August, he had a 3.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings last season and in five starts in August last season, he averaged 14.5 strikeouts per nine, including 17 in his no-hit bid that went into the ninth inning against the Rays on Aug. 8. He also struck out 12 Yankees in six innings later that month.
Currently on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, Morrow went four innings , allowing three hits and two runs, walking three and striking out five. He should be ready to pitch later this week for the Blue Jays, taking the spot of either Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 6.75 ERA) or Jesse Litsch (1-1, 3.63 ERA).
Francisco allowed a hit and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief. It was his fifth minor-league appearance.
While Francisco was tabbed as the team's closer during spring training, Jon Rauch has converted all three save opportunities in his steed.
"We're not going to not acknowledge what Jon has done," Blue Jays manager Jon Farrell told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm . "That was as crisp of an inning the other night when he came into the ninth that you'd ever want to see. Frankie coming back will give us options."
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.