TORONTO -- The empty locker just inside the door to Toronto's clubhouse provided the answer. The Blue Jays needed to make a roster move in order to activate reliever Pete Walker from the 15-day disabled list and there were questions as to who else would be involved in the transaction.
Until Tuesday morning, the vacant stall had been occupied by starter Josh Towers.
Towers, who continued to struggle in his second stint with Toronto, was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse before Tuesday's game against the Nationals.
The right-hander was originally sent down on May 24, after falling to a 1-8 record and posting a 9.00 ERA over 10 starts. He didn't show much improvement in his two outings since rejoining the staff on June 20, going 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in those starts.
"I let him know today," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I thought it was a step back the other day. The bottom line is we weren't winning the games he was starting."
In his most recent start, Towers gave up six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in just four-plus innings on Sunday. He has given up 16 homers this year -- dating back to April 16 -- allowing at least one shot in his last 10 starts. His most recent outing also marked the sixth time in 12 starts that Towers has failed to pitch at least five innings.
"You've go to be able to give your team a chance to win," Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said. "The thing we were concerned with, mostly, was we were falling down so quickly in his games. In the first two, three innings we're down by two, three runs and you'd see a different offense."
"It's tough to put your team in press mode every fifth day," he added. "That's what we were finding with Josh. I'm not stabbing him in the back or anything like that. I love him to death and we worked hard together. We just weren't able to get him figured out."
Arnsberg said that he and Towers tried many different things to try and solve his early-inning issues. In his dozen outings, Towers had allowed 19 first-inning runs and 33 runs in the first three innings.
"I've run out of ideas -- I really have -- to help him get better," Arnsberg said. "We tried several things for his early woes in innings this year. We tried starting him earlier. We tried letting him face hitters before he went into the ballgame. He'd go through an inning's worth of hitters."