As the Toronto Blue Jays crest near the midway point of spring training, you can’t help but wonder how the bullpen is going to hold up. The majority of relievers have looked less than spectacular and the two potential closers are nursing injuries with questions marks around their uncertainty.
So not to start fear mongering on March 8th because albeit the relievers have only thrown minimal innings and are still trying to establish their fastball, but here are the harsh facts.
Casey Janssen had apparent minor offseason surgery on his shoulder to repair lingering soreness. Janssen has started throwing bullpen sessions but hasn’t faced live batters yet this spring. Janssen is apparently on schedule for opening day if he does not suffer any setbacks.
Closer Sergio Santos was being tabbed as the potential closer even if Janssen was healthy. Santos is fully recovered from season ending surgery and was pitching well in Grapefruit League action games until experiencing soreness in his triceps last week. He has yet to resume throwing but is expected to start playing catch within a day or two.
Fireballer Steve Delabar has been less than spectacular thus far this spring sporting a 7.36 ERA and giving up three runs in 3.2 innings pitched.
Brett Cecil is doing nothing to convince the Jays to keep him around. He has a 7.50 ERA allowing five earned runs in six innings pitched.
The often troubled Jeremy Jeffress is out of options and owns a 6.75 ERA issuing three earned runs in four innings on the bump.
Brad Lincoln has been lit up like a Christmas tree in minimal work plugging in an ERA of 13.50 squandering four runs in 2.2 innings of work.
The newly acquired Esmil Rogers obviously doesn’t believe in first impressions. He is attempting to win over Jays management with an 11.25 ERA permitting five runs to score in four innings on the hill.
Chad Jenkins, who is tabbed to start in Buffalo, was shut down with a sore arm this week and there is no timetable for his return just yet.
The two lone bright spots out of the pen have been the ageless wonder Darren Oliver who hasn’t allowed a run in three innings and last year’s surprise sweetheart Aaron Loup who is again pitching well.
If the core of the bullpen don’t shake off the winter rust in the next week to ten days, should the Blue Jays look to signing one of the available remaining free agent? There is still a plethora of personality and available arms in the free agent bargain bin. The likes of Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez, Juan Cruz, Joey Devine, Livan Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Bobby Jenks, Dustin Moseley, JC Romero and Brian Wilson all remain unsigned.
It’s still too early to push the panic button, but you can never have too many arms. After the all-in offseason the Blue Jays committed to, what are a few more bucks for some bullpen insurance?
Former Cleveland Indians 20 game winner Bob Lemon said it best “I’ve come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen.”
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.