How the Blue Jays bullpen shakes out with no Gavin Floyd
Gavin Floyd had made 28 relief appearances for the Blue Jays, but now his spot in the bullpen may need to be filled for the remainder of 2016
The Toronto Blue Jays will be without relief pitcher Gavin Floyd for two to three months after it was revealed to the media on Tuesday evening that the right-hander is dealing with a torn right lat muscle.
This is the same injury that sent Brett Cecil to the disabled list – a stint he’s about to return from – but Floyd’s recovery is expected to take much longer. Given the estimated timeline, the Blue Jays will be forced to proceed under the assumption that he is done for the season when it comes to roster management and transactions.
“The damage to Floyd is far more severe,” Shi Davidi wrote on Sportsnet.ca, “with some separation of the muscle from the bone.”
So let us examine the ways in which this really impacts the Blue Jays:
1. Establishing what Gavin Floyd is and/or was
Losing Roberto Osuna is different than losing Ryan Tepera. Floyd falls somewhere in the middle, but unfortunately, in times of injury, it can be necessary to take a cold look at the player’s role on a team when discussing how their production will be replaced.
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Floyd was working with a strong K:BB ratio and 1.000 WHIP, but held a 4.06 ERA. That ERA was inflated by an eight-game stretch from May 11th to June 6th where he allowed 10 earned runs over 9.1 innings, but regardless, the big-picture ERA stands. Floyd had entered in the sixth inning his past two starts after seeing some setup work earlier in the season.
2. The pressure is now on…. who?
Fringe arms like Bo Schultz and Tepera will now have a greater chance to stick, but it’s still more likely that they yo-yo between the MLB roster and triple-A Buffalo.
Projected “full time” bullpen (7): Osuna, Cecil, Grilli, Biagini, Chavez, Morales, Storen
As long as Morales is able to follow Cecil back to the MLB roster – Cecil is expected back for the Cleveland Indians series later this week – then that appears to be the likeliest group when talent (and contracts) are considered.
When it comes to filling Floyd’s role in terms of his spot in the pecking order, Biagini and Chavez should exist in that area. Storen is an option of course, assuming he won’t be touching high-leverage innings, but Floyd’s role had become bridging the gap between short-to-medium length starts and the back end of the bullpen.
3. Who moves up the ladder internally, and the Sanchez question
Both Schultz and Tepera will remain valuable, while Ben Rowen could finally see a well-deserved shot later in the season. Perhaps Conner Greene, the top pitching prospect recently promoted to double-A New Hampshire, catches some helium and surprises with a late-season bullpen appearance. John Stilson, Tim Mayza, and Murphy Smith are some dark horse names to monitor, but beyond the pitchers that have already had a cup of coffee with the 25-man roster this season, there are no ironclad saviours lurking in the shadows.
When it comes to Sanchez and his potential bullpen move, general manager Ross Atkins took a slightly different stance when appearing on Sportsnet’s pre-game broadcast last night. Atkins said that “as long as things are trending upwards”, the organization wouldn’t have a reason to make that move. Don’t take this as a washing away of the innings limit by any means, but it does show some flexibility. Sanchez remains an option to solidify the bullpen, but with little MLB-ready depth behind Drew Hutchison, moving Sanchez to the bullpen creates another conversation altogether.
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4. What this means for external moves
Frankly, I’m not sure it means all that much. Losing Floyd is a legitimate blow to the Blue Jays, one that will test both their current options and depth arms. But if losing a middle relief pitcher sends a team scouring the trade market, something’s wrong.
Instead, any move that is a direct reaction to Floyd’s injury is likely to be a waiver addition or minor trade, much like the Grilli deal. The bullpen will remain a top priority, but that’s the same story as April and May.