Blue Jays: A quietly well constructed bullpen after all
Veterans in a battle for a job
I could have called this slide, “new arms 2.0” or something, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The reason being that the first pitcher I’ll mention here is John Axford, who played for the Blue Jays last season before he was eventually dealt to the Dodgers in August.
The Canadian right-hander is another pitcher with late inning experience, but he’s probably not going to factor into that part of the game in 2019 as long as the rest of the staff stays healthy. That said, he could definitely carve out an important role in the middle innings, and he could also be a candidate to be used as an “Opener” if the Blue Jays go that route.
The bottom line is, Axford wanted to return to Canada’s only team, and he signed a MiLB contract to do so. He likely could have sought an opportunity with a team that had more realistic designs on pushing for a playoff spot, but coming home was more important to him. You can’t help but like that.
The last veteran that I’d like to mention for now is Clayton Richard, who I see as being bumped to the bullpen to start the year. That will depend on the health of the rest of the starting pitchers of course, but right now the Blue Jays are set to role with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Shoemaker, Clay Buchholz, and either Richard or Ryan Borucki. Based on the performance of the latter name and Richard’s experience in the bullpen, that’s the route I would go, especially because the Jays could use a second southpaw in the bullpen.
Richard may well end up in the rotation to start the year, or get moved there if an injury necessitates as much, but my guess is he starts the year hanging out in the ‘pen.