6 Blue Jays whose future with the club hangs in the balance during spring training

Which players on the Jays’ roster could have their roles on the team on the line based on their spring performances?

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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Trevor Richards

Some may find it surprising to see Trevor Richards here among the list whose future with the Jays may be in jeopardy. After all, he has been a veteran of 6 years of major league experience. With a lifetime ERA of 4.49 along with an elite strikeout rate north of 10 batters per 9 innings, he should be at minimum a trusted strikeout weapon in the bullpen, right?

Well, looking back, his tenure with the Jays started off fabulously after coming over from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021. Richards compiled a strong 3.31 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, striking out 37 batters in just 32.2 innings pitched that year in helping stabilize the Jays’ bullpen, which was practically in shambles prior to his acquisition. However, inconsistency has plagued him for much of the past two seasons, as he would constantly alternate between stretches of pure dominance and stretches of absolute mediocrity.

Most notably, he completely imploded during the Jays’ most important run down the stretch in 2023 when he amassed a horrendous 12.41 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, .302 opponents batting average, giving up 17 earned runs and 11 walks in just 12.1 innings in the final month of the season. His strikeout ability was still evident, as he generated 16 whiffs over that same time frame, but that didn’t make up for the complete collapse that he had with regards to all other aspects of his pitching.  It hasn’t been all that pretty this spring either, as he has given up 5 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in 3 innings of work. As a result, entering 2024, Richards will be in the hot seat, as he needs to show right now that he can provide consistent effective innings for the club and no longer be the weakest link of the bullpen core. Otherwise, if he can no longer be trusted in high leverage or any type of situations altogether, promising hopefuls such as Bowden Francis and Hagen Danner can ultimately push him out of a spot for the coming year.