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The 2023 Toronto Blue Jays Report Cards: Relief Pitchers

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Photo credit:© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Prasad
3 months ago
The 2023 Blue Jays bullpen was somewhat of a rollercoaster. The beginning of the season brought hesitance and anxiety each time the bullpen doors opened. We never knew what we would get every time the starter handed the ball off and a reliever took the hill. As the year went along, the pieces fell into place and Toronto’s pen became deep and diverse. How did these pitchers rank? Let’s take a look at Toronto’s most utilized relievers. 
Grading Scale
A – Exceeded expectations with a significant contribution. This player was among the most valuable on the team.
B — Contributed to the overall success of the club. This player excelled on the mound, offered quality innings, and provided more wins than losses in their record while giving the team a chance to win.
C – Contributions were satisfactory. This player was around league average and didn’t make the team worse but didn’t reach expectations.
D – Contributions were minimal. This player did not hold the weight of their position and considerations for next season must be reviewed.

Jul 28, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Romano (68) throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels during the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Romano – Grade: A

Although critics may have a certain perspective of the Blue Jays closer, Jordan Romano, the right-handed show-stopper had a good showing this season and is recognized around the league in his capacity. Romano is ranked 5th of top 2023 closers by ESPN. He finished with 36 saves, only four blown saves and a 90% save percentage. He finished with a 5-7 record and ended on a .290 ERA in 59 innings pitched. 

Erik Swanson – Grade: B

Swanson held his weight this season, being called on to handle situations involving the set-up and closer roles in some official and non-official save situations. Swanson filled in when Romano was unavailable and did a phenomenal job maintaining leads and shutting down opportunities for comebacks. Giving up 52 hits, he only allowed 22 earned runs and struck out 75 bats versus 21 walks. Swanson picked up four saves. 

Tim Mayza – Grade: B

Mayza was very dependable this year, being a consistent source out of the pen. The southpaw matched up well in key left-on-left scenarios when summoned into games by the skipper. His ERA was 1.52 over 53.1 innings to end the year.

RHP Yimi Garcia – Grade: B

Garcia was hit or miss at the beginning of the year, however, he threw a ton of strikes and forced the offence to work hard against him. Although teams swung the bats against him, free bases weren’t so much a thing. He struck out 79 hitters, only walking 15, pitching 66 innings. His ability to throw strikes and work counts with his repertoire was fairly valuable in various scenarios. 

Genesis Cabrera – Grade: B

In the short instances that Cabrera was summoned, his performance was above satisfactory and his services as a lefty was valuable in various outings. With a 2.66 ERA, he gave up just 10 runs in 23.2 innings, striking out 20 batters and only walking six. Toronto did incredibly well with the Cabrera addition, considering he was a player the Cardinals had DFA’d. 

Jordan Hicks – Grade: B

Bringing over Hicks from St. Louis was an important move for the Toronto pitching staff. He is one of two closer options on the team while setting up the save situation for Romano. The fireballer used his tool to compete in the notorious American League East, executing a strong repertoire which exceeded 100mph on his fastball. 
He threw 24 innings with Toronto, only allowing nine runs. In total, between St. Louis and Toronto in 2023, Hicks pitched 65.2 innings, where he struck out 81 and only walked 32. He posted a 3.29 ERA in 65 games and finished 26 games. 

Trevor Richards – Grade: C

Another heavily relied-on arm this season, Richards served 72.2 innings of relief and ate up a lot of work when starting pitching did not go the mile. He got his job done in terms of pitching quality innings, however, his ERA wound up at 4.95, giving up 40 earned runs on 63 hits. Richards was huge for the Blue Jays when they only had four starting pitchers but struggled down the stretch after a stint on the Injured List.

Adam Cimber – Grade: D

A righty who was once dependable and displayed good outings, 2023 was a numerical disaster for Cimber. His ugly 7.40 ERA, which reflected 18 runs and 17 earned runs on 25 hits, earned him a D in an unreliable season and ultimately led to the veteran sidewinder getting non-tendered this off-season. Cimber spent much time on the Injured List this year and will look for an opportunity to rebuild his value.

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ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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