Blue Jays bring potentially mighty bullpen into game 5

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Bullpen debate will follow the Toronto Blue Jays out of Texas and home to the Rogers Centre, where a deciding fifth game awaits late Wednesday afternoon. With a day of rest, however, and given the recent showings from key members, this bullpen should give Toronto a back-end advantage in the finale.

David Price took on a larger-than-expected workload as a reliever in game four, but as I wrote following the game, the Blue Jays will have little issue overcoming that call from John Gibbons. In fact, Price may be available to make an appearance in game five, giving the Blue Jays a second lefty to go along with Aaron Loup out of the bullpen.

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Loup, who we hope to see return following a personal matter that took him out of game four consideration, should be the early-inning or low-leverage option against the string of Texas lefties. For example, if Stroman comes to face them in the sixth inning with a lead, Loup could be the name called, thus saving Price for a more necessary spot. If the situation involves base runners or a tight score, however, Gibbons may choose to bypass Loup altogether and empty his chamber. While Gibbons suggested Price would be unavailable for the game, Price said the opposite, and I’ll go with the pitcher’s word.

However the Loup and Price equation comes to unfold, it will orbit around a back end that looks very strong through the first four games. Aaron Sanchez seems to have fully overcome his early-September struggles and is dominating the zone with his power sinker, and given the likelihood that Stroman is able to work deep, he could help to quickly bridge the gap to Roberto Osuna.

The rookie has not blinked in the playoffs, and in the process has quited any concerns over his own September struggles. His slider was locked in on Monday and Osuna was able to produce swing-and-misses high in the zone with the fastball, so there’s no question mark there.

Past those arms, Mark Lowe has looked sharp in his very limited action in these playoffs, and seems to be the next in Gibbons’ pecking order. I remain fully confident that Liam Hendriks could handle any situation, although it’s unlikely that we see him Wednesday, while LaTroy Hawkins may be the odd man out for now after allowing two earned runs on three hits over 0.2 innings.

Solving Cole Hamels offensively will be the key to this game, but having a solid base in the bullpen with their hottest starting pitcher on the mound should give the Blue Jays confidence. This game shouldn’t leave sight of the Jays at any point, and with the capabilities of these bats, a win should never be more than a swing away.

Next: Civilization will overcome the Jays usage of Price

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