CONCERNS GROW AS BLUE JAYS’ BULLPEN INCONSISTENCY CONTINUES

2023-06-13 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Toronto Blue Jays' Trevor Richards; Rogers Centre upgrades

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports | Ballpark Digest

When Alek Manoah was optioned to the FCL, it left a rather inconvenient hole in Toronto’s rotation. Up until last Saturday, the Blue Jays were the only team in baseball to employ just five starting pitchers. No injuries, no call-ups needed - a rarity, especially in 2023, to require no depth whatsoever.
A rather fortunate start to the year, health wise at least, given that essentially none of Buffalo’s starters have garnered success thus far. Unlike the Jays’ five, fourteen different arms have started games for the Bisons - six of which (Kyle Johnston, Matt Peacock, Sean Mellen, Paxton Schultz, Nick Fraze, and Wes Parsons) only started once. Only two (Casey Lawrence and Zach Thompson) have started more than ten games, neither of whom boasting any success. In the periphery stood Bowden Francis - he of four starts - who, for at least one day, became Alek Manoah’s successor. Well, kind of.
Following seven dominant innings from Trevor Richards, Tim Mayza, and the aforementioned Bowden Francus on Saturday, Adam Cimber was handed the ball for the eighth - a move that furthered the discontent Blue Jays fans have with John Schneider, justified or not. An implosion of epic proportions from both he and Mitch White turned a 3-1 lead into a 9-4 loss, a microcosm of Toronto’s problematic trust with veterans on the staff.
See, fans are irrational. Perhaps even a little dissociative from the reality of running a ballclub, but they’re not always wrong. In 2023, the leeway allowed for veteran arms on the Blue Jays is staggering - take Anthony Bass for example, who we all know would still be on this team if not for his reprehensible comments shared to the public. Bass, a 35-year old, had precisely one week of success this year. Yimi Garcia, a 32-year old, has had none. Nor has fellow 32-year old Adam Cimber. Roughly 11 million dollars dished out to three relievers who have put together a combined -1.4 WAR. For reference, ex-Toronto reliever Julian Merryweather has a 0.3 WAR.
That’s not to say that there’s an obvious solution, as Buffalo’s relievers have been just as bad as their starters - only five arms have posted an ERA under 4.00. Bowden Francis (3.45 ERA) and Nate Pearson (2.16 ERA) have both seen Major League action this year, while Kyle Johnston (2.63 ERA) and Paul Fry (2.96 ERA) are not on the 40-man. Trent Thorton (3.32 ERA) is, however for all intents and purposes, he should not be seen as a first, second, or even third option.
At this point, it seems like multiple trades is, realistically, the only move you can make. Nate Pearson, Trevor Richards, Erik Swanson, Tim Mayza, and Jordan Romano are all - in one way or another - locked up in high-leverage situations, but what of the rest? Mitch White is a lateral move from Bass, in a baseball sense, at best. Cimber and Garcia cannot possibly be used in tight, important games. Even Richards, who’s been fantastic in recent times, has certainly had some anxiety-inducing outings.
It shall be discussed at length in the future, but given the current structure of Toronto’s ‘pen, who's a feasible trade option that - at this moment - is relatively certain of being dealt? Kansas City has mentioned Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow, but given this organization’s inability to effectively manage PR it’s safe to assume Chapman’s out of the question. Barlow has had a down year too. The Reds have been brought up with regards to closer Alexis Diaz, but with a team that is as young and fun (and, at this moment, competitive) as they are, I don’t view Diaz as a legitimate trade chip. Oakland A’s lefty Sam Moll? Washington Nationals’ Hunter Harvey? Colorado Rockies’ mid-relievers Brent Suter and Justin Lawrence? All actively mentioned as plausible trade deadline options, though each with questionable-at-best track records.
In the meantime though, what they have is what they have - and that’s a whole lot of question marks.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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