Blue Jays bullpen quietly shaping up to be a good one
They may not have landed the biggest available fish, but the Blue Jays likely didn’t have to in order to put together a successful bullpen for 2021.
The additions of Kirby Yates and Tyler Chatwood add to a strong returning group, and one that should have enough experience in the late innings and plenty of length. Yates agreed on a one-year deal for 5.5 million and will likely compete for the closer’s role, and Chatwood signed for a one-year pact as well, receiving three million. The latter has struggled as a starter since he signed with the Cubs ahead of the 2018 campaign, but pitched much better in relief in 2019, and will return to that role with his new team.
With Yates and Chatwood joining the fold, I’d argue that the Blue Jays have quietly put together a pretty solid bullpen, especially if they can sign another starting pitcher or two. If they can do that, they’ll likely shuffle Ross Stripling and/or Tanner Roark to the ‘pen, which would raise the ceiling of the group a little more. For now, let’s assume the Blue Jays can only sign one starter, and just Stripling moves to the bullpen as a swingman. Then the depth chart might look something like this:
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
2- Rafael Dolis
3- Jordan Romano
4- Ryan Borucki
7- Shun Yamaguchi
8- A.J. Cole
9- Sean Reid-Foley
10- Patrick Murphy
The plan is return the likes of Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather and more to a starting role in 2021, so long as there’s a MiLB season this time around, which appears to be the case. The Blue Jays will have to add a few more arms to round out their depth chart, but their starting point is very solid.
They have three potential options to finish off games, and combined I’m confident that Charlie Montoyo will find a formula that works between Yates, Dolis, and Romano. They could use another left-hander to complement Ryan Borucki, which is part of what would have made Brad Hand such a great fit before he signed with Washington last night, but perhaps Ross Atkins can lure someone like Jake McGee to join the Blue Jays and fill that kind of role without being promised the closer’s gig.
As for length, there should be a pretty reasonable amount of that between Stripling, Yamaguchi, and Chatwood. They’re all been starters in the past, as has Borucki, and are certainly capable of giving Montoyo more than just one inning. Cole works well returning on a MiLB deal, as he can be shuffled to Triple-A as necessary when they require a fresh arm.
Ideally the Blue Jays will be able to add one more impact reliever to the mix, and maybe a few gambles on veterans who will sign for a MiLB deal like Cole has. That depth is something that Atkins will address as we get closer to Spring Training, and will likely come mostly in the form of smaller deals, something this front office has done well with.
As for their starting point for an Opening Day group, things are looking pretty solid. Hopefully the Jays can still add another starter or two, which would help them avoid over-taxing the bullpen, but they should be pretty strong either way. The biggest key will be health, and as long as big arms like Yates, Romano, and more can stay on the mound, the Blue Jays should be in good shape.