Blue Jays: A War of Veterans for the Final Two Bullpen Spots

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 27: John Axford
DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 27: John Axford /
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DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 27: John Axford
DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 27: John Axford /

Pitching Depth. The one thing that the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays most desperately needed has been a major focus of the 2018 Blue Jays front office. This depth was enhanced by the signing of 33 year-old right handed reliever Tyler Clippard to a minor league contract. The one question remains, though: who makes the major league bullpen?

Currently, the bullpen projects to have two spots “available” on Opening Day. It is assumed that, barring any injuries, Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Seung-hwan Oh, Danny Barnes, and Aaron Loup all have locked positions. Our own Chris Henderson wrote about this earlier this week, and it’s been a well documented position battle for the Blue Jays this spring.

Battling for the final two spots are a group of veteran relievers, and two young, big, left-handed pitchers who spent most of last year in the minors. These pitchers are: John Axford, Tyler Clippard, Al Alburquerque, Craig Breslow, Tim Mayza, and Matt Dermody. Dermody and Mayza return after having spent last year in the Blue Jays’ system, while the others have signed on MiLB contracts this winter.

Matt Dermody, despite a relatively strong finish in the majors last year, seems to be pitching his way out of a spot in spring training. With 3.0 IP and five earned runs, it seems clear that Dermody will start the season in the minors.

However, Axford, Clippard, Alburquerque, Breslow, and Mayza, all still have a chance to make their case for the final two spots in the big league bullpen.