Blue Jays 2024 Season Preview: Relief pitchers

How will the Jays bullpen be projected to fare in 2024?

Jun 12, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays pitchers walk to the bullpen
Jun 12, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitchers walk to the bullpen / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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Zach Pop

Looking to build upon his solid performance with the Jays after coming over from a trade with the Marlins in 2022, everything that could have possibly gone wrong did so for Zach Pop in 2023. In a season that was pretty forgettable, he was plagued by inconsistencies and injuries.

After a decent start to the year, things completely fell apart for Pop as he posted a gaudy 6.59 ERA and gave up 10 earned runs including 4 home runs in just 13.2 innings pitched. Subsequently, he went down with a right hamstring injury in early May that sidelined him until early July. He was never able to regain his spot on the major league roster, as his struggles resurfaced during his rehab, resulting in the Jays keeping him down in the minors for the rest of the season.

This year, Pop will need to prove to the Jays in spring training that he could once again be someone they can count on in their everyday bullpen going forward to make it back to the majors. ZiPS projections certainly believes he can do it, as they predict he will accumulate more than 50 innings while considerably lowering his ERA back down to 4.74. Steamer predictions were even more optimistic, with his ERA getting back down to a more respectable 4.00. The opportunity will be there for the taking, so it will be up to Pop to take full advantage of it.

Tim Mayza

Tim Mayza put together the best season of his career in 2023 with the Jays. As their number one lefty option out of the pen, Mayza went 3-1 with 22 holds, a minuscule 1.52 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, giving up only 9 earned runs including just 2 home runs all year, along with 53 strikeouts in 53.1 innings pitched. His 1.52 ERA ranked him second among left-handed relievers with a minimum of 50 appearances behind only elite closer Josh Hader. What was more impressive was the fact that he accomplished it while pitching in many high leverage situations.

It will be a tough task to ask Mayza to repeat such an outstanding performance for 2024, as some form of regression is highly expected. ZiPS apparently agrees to that, and at quite a substantial amount as well as his ERA is predicted to balloon to 3.62, his holds will fall to only 13, and his WAR dropping from 1.3 down to 0.3. Those numbers actually mirrored more of his usual career numbers, so ultimately Mayza is expected to revert back to the norm for the upcoming season. Hopefully, he can still remain an effective situational pitcher coming out of the bullpen nonetheless, as he had done quite successfully in seasons’ past prior to his breakout in 2023.