3 Blue Jays who made the Opening Day roster, but shouldn’t have a long leash

Cavan Biggio
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During Spring Training, the Toronto Blue Jays had a couple roster spots up for grabs to round out their 26-man Opening Day roster, both in the fielding and pitching areas.  As a result, there was an intense battle by many of the training camp invitees to fight for the remaining spots on the big league roster.

In particular, three of them that stood out, but ended up just missing the team, included Otto Lopez, Addison Barger, and Nate Pearson.  Lopez had an amazing spring, hitting .348 with an OPS of .923, in addition to being a key contributor for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Barger had an equally impressive spring, hitting .294 with a homer and six RBIs.  Pearson had a solid spring as well, with a 3.24 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 8.1 innings.  But more importantly, despite some inconsistency at times, for the first time in a while, he seemed to be healthy and back again throwing 100mph heaters.

Both Lopez and Barger can also play multiple positions, making them the ideal candidate to be the next man up from the minors.  As for Pearson, the current Jays bullpen still lacks more flamethrowers to balance out the pen, so bringing him up appears to be on the horizon if anything happens to the Jays’ relievers.

As they hope to maintain their success in the minors in preparation for a call-up, the players that made the Opening Day roster shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet, since there are more than capable replacements waiting in the minors.  Among those players that made the Jays’ big league roster, there are three prime candidates that could see their jobs in jeopardy if they were to falter.

Trevor Richards

Trevor Richards was acquired back in 2021 from the Milwaukee Brewers to help stabilize the inconsistent Jays’ bullpen that year.  Together, with Adam Cimber, they helped solidify the bridge to Jordan Romano to close out games.  However, in the 2022 season, Richards regressed considerably, pitching to an ERA of 5.34 and a WHIP of 1.44.  He was still able to demonstrate power with 82 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched, but he was often plagued by constant hard contact and runners getting on base, needing others to help him get out of jams. 

Early Spring Training results in 2023 showed that his stuff was still there, with 19 strikeouts in 9.2 innings pitched; however, some inconsistency still presented itself at times, leading to a WHIP of 1.55. Therefore, it is critical for Richards to get off to a great start in 2023 to put any of those worries and issues away, and to help secure his spot in the team bullpen.  Otherwise, Pearson will definitely be ready to jump into action on first call.