The Blue Jays have added much-needed reinforcements to their pitching staff. What’s next?
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
The Blue Jays were so happy with the first reliever they acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals that they went out and got another one.
After years of actively seeking players with multiple years of control, Ross Atkins dipped into the rental trade market and made a significant splash to shore up the team’s bullpen. He dealt a pair of starting pitchers in Double-A, Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse, to the Cardinals in exchange for flamethrower Jordan Hicks.
That’s a significant price to pay for a player who can leave the team in free agency in a few months but the front office is showing the team that they’re worth the investment, which is something the players certainly appreciate.
“It’s awesome,” said third baseman Matt Chapman. “Anybody that wants to win a division and make a run in the playoffs, you’ve got to have a lock-down bullpen.“It shows that we’re serious,” added ace Kevin Gausman. “I’ve been on teams before where we didn’t do anything and it was kind of like, ‘Why didn’t we? We could have brought in this guy or that guy.’”“It’s just the organization feeling like we’ve got a good chance to do something special this year and trying to find guys who can help us do that,” said infielder Whit Merrifield.
With closer Jordan Romano on the 15-day Injured List and other relievers like Erik Swanson and Tim Mayza on pace to shatter their career-highs in appearances for a single season, adding to the bullpen ahead of the August 1 trade deadline was a must.
The hope for Toronto is that they can settle down Hicks’ command and turn one of the most electric arms in baseball into somebody who can consistently come in and get outs late in games. The big righty averages 101 miles per hour on his fastball and has been clocked at 105 but Hicks has walked 5.1 batters per nine innings over his 187 appearances at the big league level.
Things have gone well so far for Toronto’s other bullpen addition from the Cardinals. A couple of weeks ago, they sent catching prospect Sammy Hernandez to St. Louis for Genesis Cabrera, an enigmatic lefty who had been designated for assignment. Over his first four outings with the Blue Jays, Cabrera has tossed five scoreless innings with five strikeouts and zero walks.
The Blue Jays will also have a couple more reinforcements joining their pitching staff. Hyun Jin Ryu is set to make his return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday when the Blue Jays take on the Baltimore Orioles while the next outing in Chad Green’s rehab assignment will likely be with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Blue Jays make everyone fit when they’re fully healthy. They designated Mitch White for assignment on Sunday to make room for Hicks and they’ll have to clear two more spots on the 40-man roster to activate Ryu and Green from the 60-day Injured List.
They could open the spots needed by designating fringe roster names for assignment such as Thomas Hatch and Nathan Lukes, or the Blue Jays could make a roster-clearing trade before the deadline. The team has shored up its pitching staff but the Blue Jays still need a right-handed bat that can mash lefty pitching and sending two 40-man names for one helps the team in multiple regards.
As it stands now, the plan is for the Blue Jays to use a six-man starting rotation of Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, Ryu, and Yusei Kikuchi. Since teams can only carry 13 pitchers on their 26-man active roster, there would be seven spots on the team for relief pitchers. That’s fine for now, but the Blue Jays will have to make some decisions when Romano and Green are ready to return.
A fully healthy Blue Jays bullpen would likely feature Romano, Hicks, Green, Erik Swanson, Yimi Garcia, Trevor Richards, Tim Mayza, and Genesis Cabrera, but that won’t work with a six-man rotation. Considering who does and doesn’t have options, Alek Manoah might be the odd man out if he isn’t pitching well and the Blue Jays have the ability to assemble their ideal bullpen.
I’ve used the word “if” quite a few times here and there’s no guarantee the Blue Jays get to a point where everyone is healthy and effective. But, if they do, it’s a good problem to have. You’d much rather have too many pitchers for not enough spots than the opposite.
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