Blue Jays – Tim Mayza continues to battle in the bullpen amidst slow start to the campaign

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
18 days ago
Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza’s career has been full of ups and downs, one that would rival any Stephen Spielberg motion picture. After a dominating 2023 campaign, the Blue Jays southpaw is off to a tough start to the season, another addition to the rollercoaster that has been Mayza’s professional career that includes a sub 2.00 ERA season while also being DFA’d earlier in his career after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in 2019.
The longest-tenured member of the Blue Jays, Mayza has appeared in seven games so far this campaign but has allowed six earned runs through 4 1/3 innings of work. The left-hander has also allowed six walks to start the year with two home runs on record, striking out four batters to the tune of a 12.46 ERA.
In comparison, Mayza’s 2023 season saw the Pennsylvania product allow just nine earned runs across 53 1/3 innings, making 69 appearances for the Blue Jays as the club’s go-to left-hander in the bullpen. He amassed a 1.52 ERA and struck out batters at an 8.9 K/9 clip compared to a 2.5 BB/9, allowing just two home runs on the entire year.
In the current trend, Mayza is just three runs away from the season-high total from last year and has already tied his home runs allowed tally before the month turns over into May. His command has also been off, with Mayza already 40% of the way to the 15 free passes he allowed last season. Through his seven outings, he has allowed a walk in all but two appearances and an earned run in four of seven, with a hit allowed in every outing except for his 2/3 inning appearance against Houston on April 2nd.
Both sides of the plate have been giving him fits, with LHB owning a 1.433 OPS against the southpaw while right-handers have gone 5 for 13 against Mayza, with a home run being swatted from each side. He earned the loss on Wednesday against Seattle when he allowed a home run to Cal Raleigh in extra innings, being credited for three of the four earned runs.
Mayza had a somewhat similar start in 2019, where he allowed three earned through his first four outings and three innings pitched and struggled to find the strike zone, allowing five walks. He settled down after those outings, making seven appearances without allowing an earned run or a hit, dropping his ERA from 9.00 to 4.26 in a short span and eventually pitching to a 4.91 ERA through 51 1/3 innings before finishing the year on the IL.
A look at the Statcast values shows that Mayza is starting the season relying more on his slider compared to his sinker, seeing almost a 20% drop in his fastball offering and using his breaking pitch with increased frequency compared to last year. Whether that is because something is off with his sinker or the analytics are showing Mayza should rely more on his slider, both pitches have yet to work so far for the bullpen arm.
Opponents own a 1.222 SLG on his sinker while his slider is sitting at .400, although both home runs coming off his fastball offering. Normally a groundball pitcher, posting a 59.2% groundball rate in 2023 and a 58.8% mark in 2022, Mayza has been generating more flyballs to the tune of a 43.8% rate, which comes with an 18.8% barrel rate that is also contributing to the hard contact and increased runs against. He’s also lost roughly 2 MPH on his fastball pitch but he’s also been catching a lot of the plate with his main pitch, which has contributed to the increase in contact. In regards to the walks, his sinker and slider both share the blame, with the 32-year-old missing his spots with each pitch at a 50% rate apiece.
Speaking to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi, Mayza acknowledged his spotty start to the campaign, “I just have not been pitching well, have not been on the attack… I’m falling behind and you can get in bad counts. The walks are up. But you just have to keep going and keep trying to improve. Obviously it’s been a terrible start for me, but looking to turn it around.”
Looking ahead, Mayza is one of the key members of the Blue Jays bullpen and it appears that he will go back to the drawing board in terms of finding his rhythm on the mound. The club relies on him in high-leverage situations and while the Jays rotation has found success as of late, the bullpen has some ups and downs amongst the group, with Mayza included.
“It’s kind of the odd part about this,” Mayza said to Nicholson-Smith and Davidi. “I just don’t know where it came from… I’ve got to do some digging and some soul-searching.”

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