Last week I touched on the topic of internal options the Blue Jays could use to fill out the starting rotation, considering there is currently one open spot. While the front office could look outside the organization for a starter, the Jays have three or four candidates who could step up in the role if they decide to hold a competition in Spring Training this upcoming season. With the rotation being discussed last week, now it’s time to turn our attention to the bullpen.
Right now, if the Blue Jays were to roll in with eight relief pitchers (five starters and eight relievers for 13 in total), the current grouping that would appear as locks heading into next year in my opinion are (and in no particular order):
- Tim Mayza
- Trevor Richards
- Adam Cimber
- Yimi Garcia
- Jordan Romano
- Ross Stripling/Nate Pearson
In my internal starting options article, I talked about how Pearson or Stripling most likely have the inside edge for the last spot in the rotation with the other candidates most likely heading to the bullpen or back to the minor leagues. Stripling most likely makes the active roster no matter what, whether it be in the starting five or bullpen, while Pearson is a bit of a wild card considering he could begin the year in the Jays rotation, bullpen, or possibly stretched out in AAA as a starter depending on the how the club wants to use him. For the purpose of this article, let’s make it easy and say one makes the rotation and the other heads to the bullpen.
It should also be noted that the club will most likely be limited to just eight relievers next season. The reason for this is that a rule was enacted prior to the 2020 campaign to limit the number of pitchers on an active roster to 13 (5 SP and 8 RP in a normal scenario) but was not put into effect for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Now that the agreement has expired and will hopefully be ratified sometime in the New Year, it would make sense that this rule is put into the CBA and used in the 2022 campaign onwards.
There are a few instances that could change how many spots are open in the Blue Jays bullpen, considering the front office could sign or trade for a reliever or two during the offseason. Injuries to the group mentioned above could open up more spots, similar to how last season began for the Blue Jays. Realistically, various players will hit the IL over the course of the season or poor performance could see players demoted or designated for assignment (the Blue Jays used 38 different pitchers last season between the rotation and bullpen), so even if a pitcher mentioned in this article does not make the Opening Day roster, there is always a chance we could see them sometime in 2022.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the internal options the Blue Jays could use in their bullpen next season.