The prospect shine may have worn off of Sean Reid-Foley of the Blue Jays, but his skill set could be very useful as a reliever, and that transition should start now.
It’s a strange, newfound position that the Blue Jays find themselves in, having reasonably strong starting rotation depth. Things were dangerously thing at times in 2019, but that shouldn’t be the case for the upcoming season, thanks to the fine work of the front office over the off-season thus far.
Ross Atkins and company have added Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and brought back a healthy Matt Shoemaker to join a group of young starters who managed to get through the last few months of the 2019 campaign, even if they used a lot of “openers” and “bulk guys” to get it done. Their options for the fifth spot/depth in Triple-A could include Ryan Borucki, Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch, and possibly more.
And for a once highly-touted prospect like Sean Reid-Foley, it’s getting pretty tough to see a road an opportunity in the big league rotation again. For that reason, I believe the Blue Jays should convert him to a reliever right at the outset of this season, and hopefully his raw talents can translate to a new role.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Still just 24 years old, it only feels like he should be older because he joined the Blue Jays organization back in 2014, selected in the 2nd round (49th overall). He flashed a toolsy arsenal as a 19-year-old, pitching his way to High-A on the strength of a mid-high 90’s fastball, and a few other offerings. Fast forward to today, he’s now made 126 MiLB appearances over the last 5+ seasons, and has pitched in just 16 MLB games, making 13 starts.
Unfortunately Reid-Foley just hasn’t been able to put it together as a starting pitcher, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Jays should give up on him. They obviously have seen enough potential in him to protect him on their 40-man roster, although that spot could become precarious depending on what they plan to do with him. That’s also part of why I believe they should try him out full-time as a reliever, and I think he has the stuff to potentially thrive in the.
The biggest knock on Reid-Foley over the years has been his struggle to throw his fastball for strikes on a consistent basis. Becoming a reliever isn’t going to fix that problem, but it could help Reid-Foley focus his attention differently. If he were to commit to being a reliever, he could focus on two or three pitches, rather than the four-pitch arsenal he’s used as a starter. That would give him more time to work on his fastball, and hopefully he can lean on his stronger offerings.
That inconsistency might not hurt quite as much if he’s pitching out of the bullpen either. We’ve seen that he’s capable of when he’s “on”, and most of us have had the pleasure of watching him when he’s having an off day as well. The good thing about being a reliever is that if you’re having one of those off days, the manager can turn to another arm. It’s not that easy when you’re hoping to get at least five innings out of your starting pitcher, and why Reid-Foley has been such a wild card throughout his career. The addition of a 26th roster spot could also make something like this a little more palatable, assuming it doesn’t happen too frequently.
That high-quality fastball could play well out of the bullpen, and he would even have the ability to pitch multiple innings if need be, assuming he was having one of those good days. The Blue Jays can’t and won’t have patience for that sort of thing forever, but moving him to a bullpen role right now could give him the time he needs to adjust, and hopefully thrive as a reliever. Considering how far down the depth chart he’s fallen, now might be the time to start experimenting.