The Blue Jays have some final decisions to make this week, including who will be the long-man in their bullpen. Mike Bolsinger made a strong case for himself with his performance on Saturday.
One of the forgotten trades of the last few seasons was when the Blue Jays shipped Jesse Chavez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starter, Mike Bolsinger. The move had a few purposes, freeing up a bit of salary to accommodate other trades at the time, and also placed Bolsinger amongst the Jays’ starting depth, safeguarding against possible injury.
Thus far, Bolsinger has been an afterthought since arriving to the Blue Jays’ organization, but that could change very soon. The 29 year old is out of minor league options, which means the Blue Jays will have to include him on their Opening Day roster, unless they want to risk exposing him to the waiver wire, where he would surely get picked up.
Bolsinger made what could be his final case for a roster spot on Saturday, throwing 2.2 scoreless frames before leaving with a minor injury. He also struck out 4, didn’t walk anyone, and gave up 2 hits before being removed with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. The former Los Angeles Dodger tweaked his left ankle while trying to cover first base on a ground ball. The injury doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but was enough to shut him down for the day.
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If Bolsinger were a man extremely worried about his spot with the organization, you can bet he would have pitched through the injury. The smart play for someone about to begin a gruelling MLB campaign is to shut it down, get some treatment and make sure the “tweak” doesn’t turn into a DL stint.
Although it’s doubtful he’s been given any guarantees at this stage, his willingness to come out of the game at an important stage of the Grapefruit League schedule may speak volumes on his standing with the club. That said, it sounds like Bolsinger has made peace with whatever happens with his career, and has chosen to focus on what he can control, his performance.
In an interview with mlb.com after the game, the right-hander indicated just that.
"“If I go out there and pitch well, to me, I’m setting myself up good for the future. I’ll just keep pitching that way, and what happens, happens.”"
There are a few things to unpack here. First, he understands that he’s out of options and that likely gives him a leg up on the competition for a bullpen role. He’s performed well this spring, allowing 10 hits and 4 earned runs over 11.2 innings, good for a 3.09 ERA. He’s capable of pitching multiple innings, something John Gibbons will need from a member of his bullpen, especially if Joe Biagini is used in a late inning role.
Secondly, Bolsinger likely understands that if the Blue Jays decide they don’t need him, it won’t be long before someone else comes calling, possibly with a better opportunity for him personally. He’s always been a starter throughout his career, and that path is surely blocked in Toronto with their strong starting 5. If the Blue Jays expose him to the waiver wire, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could get a shot as a starter again. In Toronto, it would take an injury to one of the projected 5, and even then, it’s no guarantee that he’d get the first opportunity.
So for now, all he can do is rest his sore left ankle, prepare for a potential final Grapefruit League outing, and wait to see what the Blue Jays decide. For what it’s worth, he seems like an asset that would be a shame to give away for nothing, if you ask me.