Compared to the rest of the MLB, the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff is putting up some solid numbers as the club heads towards the start of June.
The Jays’ pitching staff currently sits ranked at #9 with a collective 3.62 ERA while the bullpen alone is ranked at #19 with a 3.96 ERA on the year. The Jays rotation is starting to turn things around, with both Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman sporting ERA’s below the 3.00 ERA mark at 1.77 and 2.25 respectively while Yusei Kikuchi is not far behind at 3.48, with Hyun Jin Ryu and Jose Berrios bringing up the back of the bus with their ERA’s currently over the 5.00 mark.
The Blue Jays bullpen has been a bit of a sore spot in recent years and this season, the Blue Jays seemed more prepared when it comes to the relief corps. Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber started the year with the club (compared to being midseason acquisitions last year) while Jordan Romano is the Jays club’s defined closer in 2022. Add in newly signed Yimi Garcia, David Phelps on a MiLB deal, and the return of Tim Mayza after a solid 2021 campaign and the Jays bullpen is miles ahead of what fans were experiencing last season.
One key interest in the bullpen conversation is Ryan Borucki, the Blue Jays’ former 15th-round pick back in 2012. The left-hander made his debut back in 2018 as a member of the rotation, starting 17 games on his way to a 3.87 ERA with a 1.321 WHIP through 97.2 innings. What followed his rookie campaign was a campaign marred by injuries, making only two starts while struggling to stay healthy. Over the next two seasons, Borucki transitioned to the bullpen and flirted with the active roster, making 45 appearances while pitching to a 4.05 ERA through 40.1 innings.
This season would be different for Borucki, as the Illinois product is out of minor league options for the first time in his career and needed to make the roster in order to not be designated for assignment. Competing alongside Mayza, Tayler Saucedo, and Andrew Vasquez as potential left-handers in the pen, Borucki started the year on the IL and did not make his first appearance until April 23rd in Houston. He made one more relief outing before ending up back on the IL with a separate blister issue a few days later and so far this year, Borucki is riding a really tough wave.
The Toronto Blue Jays need to trim a pitcher from their roster before June rolls around and the club may need to make a tough call on LHP Ryan Borucki.
Limited to being used mostly as a mid-innings replacement, Borucki has surrendered seven earned runs through just 6.1 innings this season, crafting a 7.1 BB/9 in the process. While he is seeing a rise in his K/9 at 11.4, Borucki has allowed five earned runs through his last four outings with two home runs. Overall, he has not looked sharp on the mound and if he had options at his disposal, I would harbour a guess that he may have been shipped back down to Buffalo to regroup and focus on his pitching by now. It is also interesting to note that Borucki is going to be wearing prescription glasses on the mound moving forward after experiencing some vision issues in Spring Training, which could be a difference-maker for the Jays pitcher.
However, the southpaw still finds himself on the MLB roster but much to the chagrin of the Blue Jays fans (at least from the reactions on social media). To make matters even more complicated, the Blue Jays need to trim their pitching staff down to 13 players by June 20th, a move that was supposed to be in place for June 1st but was pushed back later into the month in regards to player safety by the MLB and MLBPA.
The club could choose to option Andrew Vasquez or Julian Merryweather if they so choose, as both players have MiLB options, and with Mayza needing a spot once healthy (and most likely returning before the June 20th roster decision deadline), it is not a far-out idea that both players could find themselves in Buffalo sooner than later. Weighing the pros and cons goes a long way though, and while I wouldn’t argue that Vasquez is performing better than Borucki right now, I would debate that Merryweather may have some more upside over the long-time Jays pitcher when it comes to space in the bullpen.
While the right-hander’s 7.82 ERA is not a pretty sight either, Merryweather has just appeared sharper in the bullpen and has been used in more high-pressure situations. He did technically blow a save against the Angels yesterday after giving up two earned runs in the seventh and is a far cry from his early 2021 form, but I would argue that I can trust Merryweather more than Borucki when the game is on the line.
Maybe the fact that he can throw from the left side helps his case but Vasquez and Merryweather are not the only potential replacements available as well, as there are numerous pitchers down in the Bisons bullpen throwing well right now and could take over any of these three spots on the roster.
Looking forward, with roster decisions looming for the Blue Jays and the bullpen looking like they may need some fresh blood in the near future, some tough decisions may need to be made when it comes to Ryan Borucki on the Jays roster moving forward.