The Blue Jays blew another game on Friday, and after watching a tired bullpen struggle this week, how much is due to the management of the pitching staff?
The downward spiral for the Blue Jays over the last week has come at a very bad time, as there are just nine games left in the regular season and they’ve now dropped five in a row.
Some of it has been simply getting beat by a hot, and even superior team in the Yankees, but that wasn’t the case against the Phillies on Friday night, and yet the losing continued. Worst yet, the Blue Jays continued to make costly and sloppy errors, and once again we’re left questioning the decision making of the Blue Jays’ skipper, Charlie Montoyo.
The criticisms of the second-year skipper have been plentiful this year, and mostly with good cause. He’s made plenty of mistakes as they’ve navigated this unprecedented schedule, and it likely cost the Jays at these a few wins. However, the biggest mistake of the season may be just starting to really bite the manager in the rear lately, and it’s hard to see a remedy coming in the near future.
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It’s quite clear that the Blue Jays’ bullpen is completely gassed. After being one of the better groups in the American League for most of the year, they’ve had plenty of cracks in the armour lately, including the implosion on Friday night. However, if you look at the workload these guys have endured, it’s no wonder the bullpen is running on fumes right now.
The biggest culprit has been a seeming unwillingness to let most starting pitchers see the batting order for a third turn. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been the exception at times, but even more established veterans like Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson have been pulled with plenty of pitches left in their right arms, with the manager going to the bullpen early and often. In his defence, it was working fairly well for the first half of the 60-game season, but it’s clear that they need more from the rotation than they’ve been getting, whether that’s been from a performance standpoint, or because of manager’s decision.
The good news is they still have a 4.0 game lead over the Mariners for the last Wild Card spot for the playoffs, so they’re still in strong position to qualify. That said, with the way the team has been playing lately, they’re almost certainly destined for a first-round exit, and likely a sweep. They’re in a position where they need to keep the pedal on the gas for the rest of the regular season, but the bullpen could really use some rest more than anything.
Thankfully Ryu will make the start later today and hopefully he can provide the Blue Jays with exactly what they need right now, a longer outing. To make matters even worse, it looks like Rafael Dolis could be unavailable a while now too, which doesn’t help matters. Regardless, after Ryun’s turn Montoyo is going to have to make some important decisions when it comes to managing his pitching staff, and unfortunately he may be paying the price a bit now for how heavily he’s leaned on them.