The Toronto Blue Jays have their first series under their belt and walked away with a series win against the Texas Rangers. The Jays took the first two games, with the home opener being decided in a comeback dramatic fashion and the second game being a back and forth affair where the bullpen stepped up and held the Rangers once Kevin Gausman was out of the game. That stellar relief pitching did not carry over into the third game, where four different relievers gave up a combined six earned runs that saw Texas avoid the sweep via a 12-6 victory.
The next series for the Blue Jays is a four-game affair against the New York Yankees in the Big Apple, with Alek Manoah slated to start the first game followed by Yusei Kikuchi, Jose Berrios, and Gausman.
After the series with Texas, manager Charlie Montoyo has called upon every single member of the Blue Jays bullpen because the starters were unable to go deep into ballgames. Berrios failed to get out of the first inning and Ryu was lifted before the fourth inning, while Gausman leads the charge with five innings pitched. Overall, the Jays bullpen has carried the load and amassed 18.1 innings compared to the 8.2 by the starters, which is not the most ideal but was needed after Berrios struggled with his command and Ryu started to get hit around and eventually took a comebacker off the leg, ending his afternoon.
The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen was taxed this past weekend and a quality start from Alek Manoah tonight in New York will go a long way early in the season.
That’s why teams are allowed to carry two additional players for the month of April and the Jays decided to bring 15 pitchers north of the border. Considering the season is only three games old, one would expect that the veterans in the rotation will figure it out with some more games under their belt and will bounce back but right now, the bullpen has been used often and early to start the 2022 campaign.
The current team era of 7.67 ranks last in the Major Leagues with 23 earned runs also the worst in the big leagues while Jays’ relievers boast a collective 4.91 ERA, ranking at #24. These early struggles might be cause for concern but multiple teams from across the league are struggling such as the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates, so the Jays are not alone.
After the weekend the Jays just had, the one thing that would go a long way for the club so early in the season is for Alek Manoah to go at least five-plus innings in tonight’s game.
Heading into this four games series, Trent Thornton, Julian Merryweather, Yimi Garcia, Tayler Saucedo, Jordan Romano, and Ross Stripling already having 2.0+ innings to their name. Trevor Richards, Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber, and David Phelps only have one appearance so far and could be used tomorrow if needed (Phelps maybe not so much as he pitched yesterday) but having Manoah buck the trend and go deep is a step in the right direction.
Manoah is no stranger to the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, as the 6’6″ Florida product made his MLB debut against the Bronx Bombers last season and held them to just two hits through six innings with seven strikeouts. The right-hander also faced the Yankees later in the season (in NY) and posted strong results again, this time going 5.2 innings to the tune of three earned runs off five hits with three walks. He would finish the year with a stellar 3.22 ERA through 20 starts, amassing a 10.2 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 while owning a league-leading 16 HBP.
The former first-round pick is no stranger to big games and with the starting rotation having its ups and downs early in the season, a quality start from Manoah to right the ship will go a long way not just for the starters but to also give the bullpen a bit of rest early into the season. The one thing the Jays would like to avoid is overusing the bullpen, resulting in the club needing to make some moves to bring up some fresh arms or potentially seeing some members hit the IL due to overuse.
The Yankees squad may look a little different this season compared to last year, but if Manoah can keep the big bats at bay and go deep into the game, the Jays bullpen will surely benefit from being used a little less after their usage this past weekend and get a bit of a break before the Jays next off-day a week from today.