In what can only be described as a disappointment after the 1-3 start to the current ten-game road trip, the Blue Jays have selected the contract of lefty Tayler Saucedo and optioned rookie Jeremy Beasley back to Triple-A. Beasley hasn’t pitched once on the current road trip, and after the bullpen imploded both in the first game of the Chicago series and in Friday’s amateur hour in Boston, Blue Jays fans can only ask: “That’s the roster update?”
In a corresponding move, A.J Cole, who’d been placed on the 10-day injured list (IL) on June 2 due to “neck soreness”, was transferred to the 60-day IL to make room for Saucedo on the 40-man roster.
Tayler Saucedo is a 27-year-old, 6’5” string bean left hander who’s had some success as a reliever for Buffalo this year, with a 2-1 record with a 2.20 ERA in 10 appearances covering 16.1 innings. He’s allowed 12 hits, two walks and has hit two batters along with 21 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .214 against him.
He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 21st round of the 2015 June amateur draft from Tennessee Wesleyan University. He was never protected from the Rule 5 draft after the 2018 season, and only made Triple-A this year as a reliever after starting 72 games in the Jays’ farm system. He turns 28 on June 18th.
What’s confusing about this roster update is that he replaces 25-year-old righty Jeremy Beasley, who’d been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on June 2nd, and only pitched in one game in mop-up duty in the Friday, June 4th blowout loss to the Astros, tossing 2.0 innings with one walk, one hit batter and three K’s.
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This, despite horrific performances from the likes of Tyler Chatwood, Rafael Dolis, and Carl Edwards Jr. Those three relievers have combined for a 1-2 record with two blown saves and a 9.53 ERA in 15 appearances – but only 11.2 innings – since May 30th when Edwards Jr., was recalled. As Joe Siddall of Sportsnet pointed out post game Friday, even when healthy these relievers are only just “average”.
The latest incarnation of this was Chatwood’s 11 pitches on another Friday night massacre in Fenway. The Red Sox didn’t swing at a single offering, but after hitting Christian Arroyo with a pitch and walking Martin Gonzalez to drive in Hunter Renfroe, he then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Christian Vasquez to score Boston’s fourth run. The 5-2 lead that Chatwood had been asked to protect had evaporated to a 5-4 nail biter. After plunking Bobby Dalbec, his night was done; no outs, his two inherited runners had scored, and Tim Mayza had to get the final out of the sixth with two runners in scoring position.
Edwards Jr., then proceeded to blow the tenth save opportunity of his career (23% save conversion ratio) in the eighth inning on an Arroyo home run, and then Dolis gave up Alex Verdugo’s walk-off single off of the Green Monster. To say Jays MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was disappointed would be an understatement.
What other options does Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins have to reinforce this leaky bullpen? He could look to trades like Tampa GM Erik Neander did on May 21st, but he doesn’t appear willing to pay the required premium for relievers before the July 30th trade deadline.
He could also look internally for depth, as he did in purchasing the contract of starter Alek Manoah on May 27th. Unfortunately other options like the rehabbing Thomas Hatch, lefty Nick Allgeyer, and Triple-A righties Kirby Snead and Bryan Baker all just pitched yesterday. Nate Pearson and Anthony Kay appear to be building up their pitch counts as starters in Triple-A, which leaves the rehabbing Patrick Murphy and Connor Overton as the other relievers who haven’t pitched since last Tuesday or Wednesday.
However, after demoting Beasley to make room for Saucedo, will Atkins be willing to demote or DFA any of Chatwood, Dolis, and/or Edwards Jr.? With the Jays playoff chances dwindling by the day, let’s hope the front office is willing to be bold and do something to improve those odds.