Blue Jays add pitching depth in Lucas Harrell, Pete Walker talks about the bullpen

Everything you need to know about this signing can probably be summarized by the fact I had to use an image with ridiculous vertical dimensions to head the article. That’s the only photo of Lucas Harrell on Getty Images because, well, he’s kind of just a random name!

But hey, news is news, especially in late January, the dog days of Silly Season. So here we are, talking about the Blue Jays’ most recent addition to the Triple-A Buffalo rotation. 

Last season, Harrell managed a 4.21 earned run average and 4.57 FIP in 47 innings of split time between the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers. The interesting thing to note here is that Harrell owns a 53 per cent ground ball percentage through his career, which could bode well with the Jays’ strong group of infield gloves behind him. 

If we ever get to that point! Which I sure as hell hope we don’t! 

Anyways, this is just a depth signing, like I said earlier, for Triple-A Buffalo, who got guttered last season by injuries, trades, call ups, and all the bells and whistles of being a Minor League ball club. I mean, their rotation was so thin by the end of it that they were using Pat Venditte and Dustin Antolin to start games. Yikes!

Also, Pete Walker, the Blue Jays pitching coach, appeared on the Scott MacArthur show earlier today and brought up two interesting tidbits surrounding the team. 

The first is that he’s going to stretch Joe Biagini out “a little bit” in spring training, which would make some sense, considering we’re actually talking about someone like Lucas Harrell making starts for the team in 2017. That said, obviously if Biagini is stretched out and becomes the team’s sixth starter in Triple-A, it would leave a massive hole in already thin bullpen that only really features two reliable options: Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli. 

Maybe the idea here with Biagini is to stretch him out so that he can fill the Andrew Miller 2016 role of being a guy who can come in and pitch two innings when needed rather than just being glued to the seventh or eighth inning. We’ll see what happens. Obviously there’s pros and cons to each side, but with both Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano hitting free agency at season’s end, it would be nice to have some starting depth with upside moving forward. 

And finally, Walker touched on some names he thinks can be realistic options for the lefty out of the ‘pen along with Aaron Loup. Matt Dermody, who pitched three innings with the team last season, Brett Oberholtzer, who was given a minor league deal last month, and Tim Mayza, who pitched pretty well in Dunedin before being rocked in New Hampshire last season. That’s, uh, that’s an ugly list! It’s interesting that Chad Girodo wasn’t among those names, considering a strong 2015 season made him the lefty of the future once upon a time. 

What does this all mean? Sign a lefty, dammit! The depth for Triple-A is nice to have, but it would be excellent to have a Boone Logan or Jerry Blevins to add some kind of stability out of the bullpen.