Last season saw Toronto Blue Jays reliever Wilmer Font play a pivotal role on a young roster. This year has been rough for the right-hander, and it may be time to make a tough decision on replacing him in the bullpen.
Joining the Blue Jays via trade on July 17, 2019 from the New York Mets, right-handed pitcher Wilmer Font would be used mostly as an opener for the Jays and would pitch in 23 games to finish the year, 14 of which he started. Font would go on to throw to a 3.66 ERA with 53 strikeouts and a 1.144 WHIP during his 39.1 innings in Toronto, finishing the season with a combined 4.48 ERA, 95 strikeouts, 1.268 WHIP, and 84.1 innings pitching across three different teams.
The Venezuelan native found himself making the Blue Jays bullpen to begin the 2020 season, this time pitching as a middle reliever since the organization acquired veteran starters Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and Hyun-Jin Ryu this off-season, negating the need for an opener.
Unfortunately for Font, the 2020 season has not been kind. Through 17 games, Font has an elevated 8.78 ERA while also surrendering 13 earned runs through 13.1 innings, while also sporting a less than impressive 1.950 WHIP. To make matters worse, Font was placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday with a right shin contusion and will be out until September 17.
The issue this season appears to be consistency on the mound, as he can pitch well in short bursts, but then finds himself pitching horribly and coughing up multiple earned runs on numerous occasions. The start of the season was particularly rough for the right-hander, and a somewhat solid first half of August did bring his ERA down significantly, but he began to struggle by the end of the month and just hasn’t looked all too comfortable on the mound.
In a normal regular season, one may be quick to pull the trigger on Font and have him designated for assignment as he is out of minor league options. Considering this season is shortened due to COVID-19 and every game has significantly more important in terms of making the postseason, I can honestly say I am a bit surprised that Font is currently on the roster.
The 2020 season is only 60 games long and one could argue that Font might have found a rhythm in a few more low leverage outings, but the issue the Blue Jays have is time. There just isn’t enough time/games to keep putting Font on the mound to see if he can pitch out of the funk he is in, and the team cannot risk having him go out there and continue to keep giving up earned runs and possibly losing close games that could come back to haunt the Blue Jays.
So while he does sit on the IL right now, one wonders if he will be returning to the roster when the 10 days are up and he is healthy once again.