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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Trevor Richards

When it comes to Trevor Richards, one can never predict what version of him one would get every time he takes the mound. He could be really good for a few outings, then he would suddenly become totally inadequate in his next few. But one thing was for sure, when he was on his game, he was one of the best strikeout machines the Jays had. In 2023, Richards continued to show his lack of consistency seen in much of his previous season as he compiled a 4.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, giving up 40 earned runs and 13 home runs, but somehow still managed to impress with a whopping 105 strikeouts in just 72.2 innings pitched. But what stood out the most was when he faltered in the final two months of the season when the Jays needed him the most. He ended up posting a horrific 10.24 ERA and 1.81 WHIP, giving up 22 earned runs and 12 walks in just 19.1 innings of work.

The Jays will need the dominant 2022 version of Richards back to justify his spot on the 2024 roster. As a result, it will be vital for him to have a strong spring training to put away any doubts in his abilities for good. Steamer predictions are in favour of Richards, as his ERA is expected to drop more than a full run down to 3.84, along with a decrease in both walk rate (BB/9) from 4.33 to 3.84 and home run rate (HR/9) from 1.61 to 1.29. Having a fully rejuvenated Richards will go a long way in stabilizing the Jays’ bullpen to put themselves into strong contending status once again. Otherwise, any more shortcomings in his game will jeopardize his roster spot with the big league club going forward.

Mitch White

Many had thought we had seen the last of Mitch White following his designation for assignment last summer. After all, he had failed to produce any type of quality results during his current tenure with the Jays, as he has registered an eye-popping 7.60 ERA and 1.74 WHIP, along with an 0-6 record to date. Last season, White continued that trend while working mainly out of the bullpen as he posted a 7.11 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, with 7 walks and 13 strikeouts in just 12.2 innings pitched. With such an underwhelming performance, he passed through waivers unscathed and was ultimately outright to Buffalo for the remainder of the season.

Back down in the minors, White was utilized in the capacity of a starter once again and surprisingly produced some convincing results. In particular in his final five starts of the season, he posted a stellar 1.37 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .170 opponents batting average, along with 35 strikeouts in just 26.1 innings pitched. As much as he has been totally written off by most people, this resurgence of White could still serve as potential starting pitching depth for the Jays in 2024 if he manages to harness that success he had towards the end of last year. ZiPS projections fully supports that notion as White is predicted to have his ERA lowered to 4.60, along with making 14 starts in 27 overall appearances. Despite a decrease in K/9 ratio from 9.24 down to 7.96, he will have better control of his command and reduce hard contact with a lower BB/9 ratio (4.97 down to 3.36) and lower HR/9 ratio (1.42 down to 1.12) respectively. If that does play out, then the Jays’ pitching depth heading into 2024 might not be as bad as it seems.