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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Jordan Romano

As one of the best closers in the game, Jordan Romano once again delivered in the most part for the 2023 season. This despite often getting the Jays’ faithful on the edge of their seats before finally finishing off ballgames. On top of that, he managed to tie his career-high in saves with 36, which also ranked him second in the American League behind Emmanuel Clase and 5th in the entire MLB. In doing so, he became a second-time All-Star in the process.

However, his 2.90 ERA and 1.22 WHIP that he ended up posting were his highest numbers since his rookie season back in 2019, which raises the question on whether or not some possible regression is occurring in his game. This became more evident during a mediocre stretch in September when he went 1-2 with a blown save, along with a 4.91 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in his final 9 games of the season leading up to the playoffs. Perhaps he wasn’t fully recovered from his lower-back injury that he sustained earlier during the All-Star Game and which recurred during late July. But if he was back to 100% already, this trend heading in the wrong direction is quite worrisome.

Well, Steamer projections are making some of those worries approaching more a reality for 2024, as Romano is in line to see his ERA jump to 3.67, along with a WAR falling from 1.2 down to 0.6, together with a LOB% decreasing from a strong 82.3% down to a more average 74.5%. As a closer, whose job is mainly to prevent runners from scoring when brought in for high leverage situations, the LOB% statistic for 2024 could spell even more trouble for Romano if he ever comes into a game with runners on base. On the plus side of things, at least the Jays have in store some alternate options already they could turn to in case Romano were ever to falter. But the best case scenario for the team’s sake would be for him to revert back to his unstoppable form seen in his prior three seasons; otherwise, the Jays could be in for a long season ahead without an established, shutdown closer to depend on.