Blue Jays: Out of options, Ryan Borucki enters make-or-break year

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 03: Ryan Borucki #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during a MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on August 03, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 03: Ryan Borucki #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during a MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on August 03, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Entering his first year of arbitration this offseason, Blue Jays southpaw Ryan Borucki has been put through the wringer when it comes to pitching at the big league level.

Making his debut back in 2018, Borucki made 17 starts and compiled a 3.87 ERA through 97.2 innings, showing fans that he was potentially the next starting pitcher of the future for the Blue Jays organization alongside the upcoming crop of farm-grown talent. His sophomore campaign was anything but that however, as Borucki spent most of the year on the injured list with an elbow injury and only appeared in two games, mustering only 6.2 innings while allowing 15 hits. Truly unfair for how well he had pitched the year prior.

Since then, the Blue Jays have transitioned Borucki to the bullpen and he has pitched to mixed results, posting stellar numbers during the shortened 2020 campaign but struggling last year, hitting the 60-day IL and with a forearm flexor strain and riding the options bus towards the end of the year while only appearing in 24 games.

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When looking at the Blue Jays depth charts on Fangraphs, there are a few players that are currently out of options and could be subjected to the waiver wire if they don’t break camp with the club this spring.

Catcher Reese McGuire is out of options, evident last season when he was designated for assignment by the club but was not picked up by any other team and sent outright to Buffalo. Relief pitcher Trevor Richards is also out of options but considering how well he pitched for the Jays last season, he will most likely make the club out of Spring Training barring an absolute implosion.

Entering the 2022 season, Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Borucki enters Spring Training out of minor league options and needs a spot on the active roster.

This leaves Borucki, who also enters the 2022 season out of minor league options and needing to find a spot on the active roster or risk being exposed to the waiver wire if designated for assignment.

A strong Spring Training will go a long way for the Illinois product but he has some strong internal competition when it comes to open spots in the relief corps. If the Blue Jays head to Opening Day with eight relief pitchers, it would appear that there are only two spots up for grabs with relievers like Richards, Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, Trevor Richards, and Adam Cimber most likely making the team come late March. Borucki will have competition from fellow southpaws Kirby Snead and Tayler Saucedo while also having to fend off players like David Phelps, Julian Merryweather, Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, and any potential offseason signing or acquisition the Blue Jays make once a new CBA is in place.

Steamer projections for Borucki currently have him appearing in 46 games and posting a 4.00 ERA with a 9.34 K/9 and a 1.34 WHIP. If he struggles this Spring and does not make the Opening Day roster, the club would have to designate him for assignment (under the previous CBA) and any other club in the Major Leagues would be able to pick him off the waiver wire. I do not think he makes it through the wire without getting claimed, but stranger things have happened.

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With the Blue Jays poised to compete for a playoff run over the next few seasons, this may be a make-or-break Spring for the former 15th round draft pick. I personally hope he finds a way to make the roster, as he can be an absolute force on the mound (evident by his strong 2018 and 2020 campaigns) but any offseason acquisitions could limit his chances, regardless of how well he performs in Dunedin.

Only time will tell for this fan favourite and I truly hope he finds a way to crack the roster because when he is pitching well, the team benefits as a whole with him on the mound.