Kay covered 2.2 frames in relief Sunday in the Blue Jays' 6-5 loss to the Rays in 10 innings. He gave up one run on three hits and struck out two in the 43-pitch appearance. After breaking summer camp as a member of the 30-man Opening Day roster, Kay looked like he may have clinched a spot in the Toronto rotation, but manager Charlie Montoyo instead elected to treat the fifth starter's role as a bullpen day. Thomas Hatch served as the opener for the game, with he and Kay combining to cover the first five innings of the contest. Jamie Campbell of Sportsnet reports that the Blue Jays intend to call up top pitching prospect Nate Pearson to start Wednesday's game against the Nationals, so he'll presumably bump both Kay and Hatch to the bullpen on a more permanent basis.
Kay is included on the Blue Jays' season-opening 30-man roster and is expected to serve as the team's fifth starter, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca reports. With Chase Anderson (oblique) opening the season on the 10-day injured list, Kay, Nate Pearson and Ryan Borucki had been viewed as the top candidates to replace the right-hander in the rotation. Toronto has since moved Pearson to the taxi squad, while Borucki was optioned to the team's alternate training site, leaving Kay as the last man standing in the job battle. Pearson is still expected to get added to the roster July 29 so that the Blue Jays can secure an extra year of service time, so Kay won't necessarily have much longevity in the Toronto rotation.
The Blue Jays included Kay as part of their 60-man roster pool that was announced Sunday, Keegan Matheson of MLB.com reports. Kay had previously been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on March 20, but with the 2020 minor-league season in doubt, he'll now be eligible to pitch for the big club during the Blue Jays' 60-game slate. Toronto tentatively looks set to enter the abbreviated season with its top six or seven rotation options all available, so Kay may have to settle for long-relief work initially.
Kay was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Friday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Kay wasn't a favorite to secure an Opening Day rotation spot as he's thrown just 14 career big-league innings. After posting a 4.41 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 14 Triple-A starts last season, he likely still has something to prove in the minors.
Kay gave up three hits and two walks over three scoreless innings during Monday's split-squad game against the Pirates. He struck out four. The 24-year-old southpaw has fought his control and command this spring, and even after Monday's clean outing he still carries a 7.36 ERA, 2.18 WHIP and 9:7 K:BB through 7.1 innings. Kay will begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo, but a strong start will put him in position for a promotion should the Jays need to bolster their rotation over the summer.