Blue Jays: Mostly out of Charlie’s hands and into Ross Atkins’

Oct 29, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, Can; Toronto Blue Jays new manager Charlie Montoyo smiles as he listen to comments from general manager Ross Atkins during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, Can; Toronto Blue Jays new manager Charlie Montoyo smiles as he listen to comments from general manager Ross Atkins during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

While the Blue Jays bullpen continues to fall apart lately, you can hardly blame Charlie Montoyo for the recent developments. At this point, Ross Atkins needs to step in and do something to help the situation.

The Blue Jays led the Red Sox by a score of 5-1 on Friday night and looked to be comfortably in control of the game thanks to a quality start from Ross Stripling. When the 29-year-old started to run out of gas in the 6th and got in a bit of trouble, Montoyo turned to Tyler Chatwood to try and finish off the inning. Unfortunately Chatwood wasn’t able to build off of his last two solid outings and returned to a pitcher that seems incapable of throwing strikes, let alone getting anybody out.

It’s been a baffling fall from grace for the California native, who was absolutely lights out for the Blue Jays earlier this year. These days he looks pretty lost, and in a lot of ways his struggles are symbolic of what we’ve seen from the relief corps in general.

It’s easy to point the finger at Montoyo when things go sour as they did on Friday, especially after the bullpen has already cost this team a few losses in June. That said, I’m not sure what the skipper was supposed to do considering the arms he had available. Tim Mayza was able to bail Chatwood out of compounding disaster, but eventually Carl Edwards Jr. allowed the tying run in the 8th inning, and a Bo Bichette error in the 9th led to the winning run for the Red Sox.

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After the game we learned that Jordan Romano was not available for the Blue Jays on Friday, as Montoyo cited some forearm tightness as the reason his best reliever wasn’t used. Hopefully it won’t result in any missed time because this bullpen really can’t afford to lose his contribution at the moment. Even if he’s fine and able to return this weekend, his situation further highlights what we already know, that the front office needs to step in and help solve the latest issue facing this roster.

On Friday night the Blue Jays had a bullpen that consisted of the arms that were used in Chatwood, Tim Mayza, Carl Edwards Jr., and Rafael Dolis. As mentioned earlier, Romano wasn’t able to pitch, and both Anthony Castro and Joel Payamps had thrown Thursday night, with the former having pitched two days in a row already. Beyond that there was just Trent Thornton, who they typically prefer to keep available for a multi-inning appearance if necessary. When you break it down Montoyo’s thinking on Friday night makes a lot more sense.

To begin with Atkins is likely going to have to make a move or two ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s games with the Red Sox to bring some fresh arms. Hopefully that could come in the form of options like Thomas Hatch and Patrick Murphy, but we’ll see what the plan is for those two rehabbing right-handers. It’s doubtful that Atkins would consider using someone like Nate Pearson in relief, but desperate times may call for desperate measures if things don’t turn around soon.

One of the more favourable solutions is to turn to the trade market, which unfortunately might still be developing. That’s not to say that a trade can’t be made 6-7 weeks in advance of the deadline, but it usually requires a better return in order to get your partner to pull the trigger a little early. That said, names like Daniel Hudson and/or Brad of the Washington Nationals, or Kendall Graveman of the Mariners might be available and able to boost the back end of the bullpen. None of those arms would come cheap, but I think it’s time for the front office to ask themselves what the goals of 2021 truly are. Regardless, there are a handful of teams that should be ready to start legitimately discussing trades.

With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. having an MVP calibre season, and premium contributions from expiring contracts like Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray, there’s an argument that the Jays should give a real push this year. That’s especially the case when you look at the AL East and the potential vulnerability of the division. The Yankees have badly struggled, and the Red Sox and Rays are within reach of the Blue Jays, even if they haven’t taken advantage of their early opportunities this season. They’ve also yet to get George Springer back, and in theory he’ll add a legitimate impact to the team as well.

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With more than 100 games remaining in the schedule, there is still time to right the ship and push for a return to the playoffs. That said, it’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays being in a position to do that without some additional help for the bullpen. As easy as it is to blame Montoyo for the recent scuffles, at this point I think the questions need to be directed toward the front office.