Blue Jays: Carlos Ramirez, Shawn Kelley headline list of potential bullpen stopgaps
As the Blue Jays bullpen continues to grow exhausted, the team should look to some recently booted arms to help them relieve some of their pitching woes.
It’s no secret, the Blue Jays bullpen is tired, overworked, and downright ineffective. Having pitched the third most innings in the American League this season, the Jays’ pen has especially been overused given the sudden rise of bullpen starts, which eat up arms and zap energy like no other.
Recently, the team got some unexpected relief in the form of former Astros farmhand Mike Hauschild, but it’s hard to lean on a pitcher who, while dominant in his first appearance as a Blue Jay, has limited major league experience.
With that said, several serviceable arms have recently been designated for assignment or released. While there are no perfect pitchers, these next couple names have been let go by their former clubs due to roster crunches or other miscellaneous reasons. Here are a few pitchers, reliever, and starters, that the Blue Jays should take a look at as they continue to over-utilize their relief pitchers:
Carlos Ramirez – An Old Friend
Once a promising member of the Blue Jays bullpen, converted outfielder Carlos Ramirez was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics in late May due to an abundance of arms in the upper minors. Prior to his waiver placement, Ramirez had pitched a pair of innings for the Jays in 2018, allowing a single earned run while striking out three.
Recently, he was designated for assignment by the Athletics to make room for activated outfielder Boog Powell on the 40-man roster. In 8.1 innings for Oakland this season, he’s pitched to a 3.00 ERA, walking four and striking out a pair. A one-inning type of arm, the former Blue Jay could be a fit for the current bullpen.
Shawn Kelley – Troubled and Talented
Despite his negative rapport with Nationals manager Dave Martinez, 34-year-old righty Shawn Kelley has been very effective out of the Nationals pen this season. In 32.1 frames, the native of Louisville, Kentucky has pitched to a 3.34 ERA, striking out 32 while walking just five.
Although he’s allowed seven home runs, he sports a WHIP of 0.959 and is signed to a team friendly deal that expires at the end of this season. While a questionable clubhouse character, Kelley could formidably eat up innings for this team down the stretch so that they can avoid strain on their most valuable bullpen arms.
Zach McAllister – A Cleveland Connection
An excellent swingman in 2017, 30-year-old Illinois native Zach McAllister was just designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians to make room for superstar reliever Andrew Miller. In 41 games this year, the product of Illinois Valley Central High School has tossed 41.2 frames with an ERA of 4.97, striking out 34 and walking 10.
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While not an ideal solution by any means, McAllister’s expiring contract, combined with his wealth of major league experience could make him a cheap and effective pickup for a team in desperate need of a long reliever.
Jorge De La Rosa – A Veteran Presence
Another flawed, yet viably consistent veteran, Arizona Diamondback Jorge De La Rosa was recently outed from the D-Backs pitching staff after tossing 35.0 frames of 4.63 ERA ball this year. With a career ERA of 4.63, he’s logged over 1500 big league innings and has had eight seasons in which he’s pitched more than 100 innings.
Signed to a modest, one-year deal, De La Rosa could be had for cheap after being designated for assignment following Arizona’s acquisition of reliever Jake Diekman.
Frankly, none of the above options is a perfect solution to the seemingly complex conundrum that is the Blue Jays bullpen. However, diamonds in the rough are not uncommon in the relief market, especially at this point in the season.
When taking into consideration the needs of this team at this time, it’s not inconceivable that one of the names mentioned above could slot in and eat up some innings for a struggling ball club just waiting for the season to come to a close.