The Blue Jays have used 37 different pitchers this year, with various players missing time on the injured list like A.J. Cole and David Phelps while some were designated for assignment due to poor performances like Tyler Chatwood and Brad Hand.
Overall, the Blue Jays currently sport a 3.92 ERA through their entire pitching staff while the bullpen has pitched to a collective 4.02 ERA, ranked #14 in the league. While this isn’t the worst in the league, the bullpen has been the reason for a few significant losses this year like when Hand issued the walk-off free pass against the Seattle Mariners or when Chatwood issued four walks on route to a loss in the Blue Jays record.
While the club has cut away some of the dead weight, there is one pitcher who is currently on a rehab assignment down in Buffalo that the Blue Jays may want back on the roster sooner than later.
Acquired from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Josh Donaldson back in 2018, Julian Merryweather has been around since 2014 but has been marred by injuries throughout his last few years. He would make his major league debut last season for the Blue Jays, appearing in eight games (three starts) and pitching to a 4.15 ERA through 13.0 innings with six walks and 15 strikeouts.
With Blue Jays reliever Julian Merryweather nearing the end of his rehab assignment, the club will have to make some decisions in order to put him back on the 40-man roster.
This season, the right-hander made the Jays Opening Day roster and was dominant through his first four appearances, earning two saves against the New York Yankees while striking out seven batters with one walkthrough 4.1 innings of work. The injury bug would hit Merryweather again, as the 29-year-old would find himself on the 60-day IL with an oblique injury that has sidelined him for most of the season.
After making a relief appearance in both the Rookie League and with the Dunedin Blue Jays (Low-A), Merryweather is continuing his rehab assignment in Buffalo and has appeared in three games so far. While he would give up one earned run in his first appearance with the Bisons on August 28th, the California product has been stellar over his last two outings, striking out two batters while allowing two hits with zero walks and looking great on the mound with his fastball sitting in the mid-90s.
The righty will need a few more outings in the minor leagues before any potential call-up to the big league roster, but when he is healthy and ready to go, there is not a clear path to the Blue Jays given the current 40-man roster situation.
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The club currently has a full roster with the recent addition of Jake Lamb and the DFA of Connor Overton. With Merryweather on the 60-day IL, his spot on the roster was available for another player until his return, meaning the Jays could carry 41 players on the roster until his rehab assignment was complete. Right now, there are four players on the 60-day IL (Phelps, Merryweather, A.J. Cole, and Kirby Yates), and the Blue Jays have 44 players on the roster.
Both Merryweather and Cole are nearing a return to becoming healthy enough to come off the 60-day IL, meaning if the front office wants to keep both players, then two on the current roster will need to be DFA. While one could argue that the team may not want to bring Cole back to the roster, if the Jays want to utilize Merryweather as they march towards a playoff spot this year, someone will have to go.
One can speculate on the various different options the Jays have to potentially DFA to have Merryweather return to the club but the fact still remains that the roster will need to be trimmed down prior to his arrival. Considering the right-hander has pitched two clean consecutive outings and the Blue Jays can use every strong arm they can in the pen to finish the season, the decision may need to come sooner rather than later. Even if he stays down in the minor leagues, he will still require a roster spot after his rehab assignment is complete.
While Julian Merryweather did not pitch yesterday, a few more clean innings down in Buffalo could see the former Cleveland prospect be called up to the big leagues within the next week or two.
If he can continue to pitch as he did through his first four outings with the Blue Jays earlier this season, there should be no reason why the club would keep him down in the minors given they are five games back of a Wild Card spot and every game is a must-win at this point.
Who should the club drop from the roster in order to keep Julian Merryweather on the 40-man roster?