Around this time last year, the Blue Jays were losing games that features implosions from the likes of Tyler Chatwood and Rafael Dolis.
Everyone was shouting “Get bullpen help!” and the front office did exactly that by acquiring Adam Cimber from the Miami Marlins on June 29 and Trevor Richards from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 6. While Richards has fallen off a cliff this season, he and Cimber helped solidify the Blue Jays’ bullpen last summer and the team did much better from July onwards than they did in April and May.
The bullpen isn’t quite as much of a mess this year as it was last but the cracks are very clearly showing and the Blue Jays are again in need of some reinforcements.
This week’s series in Chicago was a difficult one for the ‘pen as Toronto’s relievers got tagged in all three games against the White Sox…
- The Blue Jays nearly pulled off a comeback on Monday after a terrible start from Jose Berrios but the difference wound up being two runs that the White Sox scored off of David Phelps in the fifth inning.
- Tuesday’s game featured three blown saves by the Blue Jays. Jordan Romano couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Tim Mayza allowed the ghost runner to score in the 10th inning, and then Matt Gage blew a one-run lead in the 11th before taking the loss in the 12th.
- The finale on Wednesday looked for a moment like it was going to be a bow on top of a terrible week for the bullpen. The Blue Jays had a 9-1 lead but David Phelps allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh and Adam Cimber could only get one out in the eighth before allowing three runs of his own.
- The only reliable reliever the Blue Jays had this week was Trent Thornton, who tossed two scoreless mop-up frames as on Monday and then got out of Stripling’s jam on Wednesday.
This isn’t just something that came out of nowhere. The Blue Jays’ bullpen was excellent in April and in early May before the bats woke up but holding leads has become a challenge in recent weeks. Another challenge has been the mop-up guys coming in and adding fuel to the fire after poor starts, making it difficult to either pull off comebacks or give the high-leverage arms rest.
It’s not easy to execute a trade in June, especially considering there’s an extra playoff team in each league and teams are less inclined to sell than before, but it isn’t impossible. We saw the Blue Jays acquire a pair of relievers around this time last year and it was a game-changer in the team tightening things up and eventually going on a late-season run.
Other teams are less inclined to sell than before and they all know the Blue Jays need bullpen help so acquiring a reliever is going to cost the team a premium. But, also, the Blue Jays are a win-now team and they can’t afford to be blowing games when the red-hot Red Sox come to town for three and then the pesky Rays are here for a whopping five-game series that features a double-header.
Names like Casey Lawrence, Jeremey Beasley, Max Castillo, and Shaun Anderson are nice depth, but the answer isn’t in Triple-A Buffalo. The Blue Jays need an arm or two at the back of their ‘pen that can come in and strike guys out in high-leverage situations.
Even if it comes at a high cost, getting a quality relief pitcher is something that needs to be done.