Blue Jays: Predicting the next bullpen arm to get called up from Buffalo

TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Bryan Baker #79 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 28, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Bryan Baker #79 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 28, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently fighting for a spot in the postseason, with the club just a few games back of a spot in the Wild Card with just over one and a half months left to go in the season.

This year, the Blue Jays have used 37 different pitchers due to the multitude of injuries to the pitching corps over the course of the season. Some pitchers are currently on the injured list like A.J. Cole and Julian Merryweather while others have been riding the options bus such as Tayler Saucedo and Anthony Kay. The front office did let some players go like Tanner Roark and Tyler Chatwood while also trading away some pitchers like T.J. Zeuch and Joel Payamps at the trade deadline. All and all, it has been a busy season in the bullpen for the Blue Jays.

On the flip side, Ross Atkins and the front office have also been rather busy this season to improve the pitching corps, trading for starting pitcher Jose Berrios as well as relief pitchers Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, Brad Hand, and Joakim Soria prior to the trade deadline. All of these pitchers have experience in the major leagues and both Cimber and Richards are not just rental players, meaning they will be back with the organization next season.

The Toronto Blue Jays have utilized a few players from the AAA bullpen on their current roster with how well they have been pitching. Who is next in line for a promotion to the big league club?

Down in Buffalo, the AAA bullpen has been pitching well this season, with multiple players receiving call-ups to the major league roster such as Tayler Saucedo, Kirby Snead, and Connor Overton, all of whom are pitching well in their brief stints with the big league club this season. Saucedo did get roughed up earlier this month but still sports a solid 3.78 ERA on the year, a left-hander who adds some depth to the bullpen especially with Tim Mayza on the injured list, Ryan Borucki down in AAA, and Brad Hand getting roughed up in one of his first outings with the Blue Jays.

That being said, while the bullpen may seem pretty set in stone at the time being, there are a few more arms down in AAA who could benefit the Blue Jays when the rosters expand in September to 28 players versus the current 26-man format or if someone in the pen goes down on the injured list.

*The players mentioned below have spent the entire 2021 season down in the minor leagues*

Bryan Baker – RHP

One of the Buffalo Bisons’ top arms in the bullpen, right-hander Bryan Baker was acquired from the Colorado Rockies back in mid-2018 in exchange for Seunghwan Oh. The North Florida alum finds himself as one of the more prominent arms in the later innings, earning eight saves on the season while pitching to a 1.50 ERA through 29 outings and 30.0 innings of work.

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Baker is currently not on the 40-man roster otherwise he would most likely be in the major leagues right now, as the club is pretty tight on the roster right now and cannot afford to drop anybody from the 40-man. If a pitcher finds themselves on the 60-day IL or the likes of Saucedo, Snead, or Overton struggles over the next few weeks, Baker could find himself on the Jays roster later this year if the front office is willing to designate someone for assignment.

Curtis Taylor – RHP

Beginning the season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, right-handed relief pitcher Curtis Taylor has been splitting his time this season between AA and AAA, with the Port Coquitlam, BC product currently in the Bison’s bullpen. In AAA, Taylor has appeared in 11 games and sports a 2.19 ERA with 15 strikeouts through 12.1 innings. Between both leagues, the righty pitcher has pitched to the tune of a 4.44 ERA through 20 outings, getting roughed up in AA this year through nine appearances.

A little further down the pitching depth charts, the club could call on Taylor if multiple injuries occur to the current bullpen pitchers but Baker is most likely ahead of him in terms of the pecking order. If Taylor can continue to throw well to finish the season, he could make a case for a September call-up if the team can find him a spot on the 40-man roster.

Jacob Waguespack – RHP

A familiar name to Blue Jays fans, Jacob Waguespack is down in AAA and has been pitching well this season, throwing to a 2.70 ERA through 16 appearances (10 starts) with 66 strikeouts, 19 walks, and a 1.22 WHIP through 60.0 innings pitched.

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The right-hander began the season in the rotation but has recently started to get some reps in the bullpen, pitching between one to three innings per appearance. The Blue Jays could be setting him up for a promotion to the major league roster via the bullpen but similar to Baker and Taylor, Waguespack would also need to be added to the 40-man roster before any potential call-up.

Honurable Mentions

Hobie Harris: 3.48 ERA; 28 appearances; 31.0 innings; 38 strikeouts; 12 walks; 1.10 WHIP

Dany Jimenez: 3.03 ERA; 28 appearances; 32.2 innings; 50 strikeouts; 20 walks; 1.32 WHIP