The Blue Jays pitching staff has suffered another injury.
With Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch already dealing with issues, word came out on Monday that Kirby Yates, Toronto’s expected closer, had suffered a flexor-pronator (in the forearm, close to the elbow) strain in his right arm. That doesn’t sound good!
The word as of right now is that Yates will miss “multiple weeks,” which is fairly vague but clearly gives the indication that we shouldn’t expect him back any time soon. It’s also a very worrying injury given the fact Yates made just six appearances in 2021 before undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow, so let’s hope this doesn’t evolve into something bigger.
So, what now?
The Blue Jays came into the 2020 season with Ken Giles pencilled in as their closer but, of course, he got injured three games into the season and didn’t pitch again. With Giles out, the Blue Jays used a combination of Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, Jordan Romano, and A.J. Cole at the back of their bullpen, with Bass and Dolis picking up seven and five saves respectively.
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I would guess that Dolis would be the one to slide into the ninth-inning role to start things off given the fact he was a heavily-relied upon option for Charlie Montoyo last season and he was a closer in Japan for a few years. Romano, as great as he’s been, only has 30 innings of experience at the big-league level. If Dolis struggles, I imagine Romano would be next in line, though.
What about the rest of the bullpen?
Yates’ injury opens up an opportunity for somebody else to crack the roster. The last time I projected Toronto’s roster, I guessed they would operate with a nine-man ‘pen that featured, Yates, Romano, Dolis, Tyler Chatwood, Julian Merryweather, David Phelps, A.J. Cole, Ryan Borucki, and Francisco Liriano. Trent Thornton, a pitcher who can throw multiple innings out of the ‘pen, probably makes sense as the next guy in line here.
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