If and when the Blue Jays go to add to their pitching staff later this year, there shouldn’t be much of a need in the bullpen at the trade deadline.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to find a cheap addition in July ahead of the trade deadline, but they could have plenty of talent available depending on how they want to use their depth starters this season.
In 2020 we saw starters like Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather and more used out of the bullpen, largely because there was no minor league season for them to pitch in as starters. With the MiLB leagues set to resume this year the assumption is that trio will likely start in Triple-A as long as both they and the projected big league rotation are healthy. In my mind, that’s probably a wise plan.
That said, you don’t have to stick to one game plan for the entire season, and that’s what I’d like to see from the Blue Jays in 2021 as they approach the stretch run. We’ll see how the rotation shakes out before then with Tanner Roark, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and more, and it’s entirely possible the Jays could trade for a starter to raise the ceiling of their playoff rotation. It’s also likely that guys like Kay, Hatch, Merryweather, and more could be needed as big league starters at some point too, but it’s not hard to see how they could be waiting one more year for a true opportunity.
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
If that’s the case, why not plan to add them to the bullpen in August/September and know that there are strong reinforcements ready to make the pitching staff better? Think back to the World Series champion teams for the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993, who had future starters like David Wells, Pat Hentgen, Al Leiter, and Todd Stottlemyre working out of the ‘pen. They had dominant late-inning arms like Tom Henke, Duane Ward, and Mike Timlin as well, but the depth provided by young starters was very important.
It’s not hard to see how that could happen with the trio I’ve already mentioned, or maybe even for Nate Pearson as well. We’ll see how his 2021 campaign goes, but there’s a plausible scenario that sees him work as a starter for most of the year and eventually transition to the bullpen to control the amount of innings he throws. Hopefully he can stay in the rotation throughout the entire year, but he’d make a heck of an additional weapon out of the bullpen too.
I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here either, but I’m not writing off the possibility of Alek Manoah and/or Simeon Woods Richardson doing the same late in the year. Both will start their seasons in the minor leagues, and they should, but with a successful year of development it’s possible they could contribute in the big leagues in 2021. It would take the right situation for the Blue Jays to call them up, but both possess the talent to succeed in either role.
I imagine the 2021 season will see a lot of change and maybe even uncertainty with the pitching staff, but there are a lot of talented arms to work with throughout the organization. Used in the right way down the stretch, the Blue Jays should have some secret weapons waiting to use in the bullpen this fall.