Blue Jays experiencing more injury issues as Opening Day inches closer

Feb 16, 2024; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Romano (68) throws a bullpen
Feb 16, 2024; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Romano (68) throws a bullpen / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

As if things couldn't get any more concerning for the Toronto Blue Jays, Tuesday's news dropped. The club already has each of Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah and Danny Jansen working their way back from a slew of injuries.

Now the club's top two relief pitchers can be added to the mix. Closer Jordan Romano and top set-up option Erik Swanson are both experiencing setbacks in their own respective recoveries. Romano is working through elbow inflammation and received an anti-inflammatory shot on Tuesday.

If all goes well, he should be good in a few days, according to manager John Schneider. FanGraphs' Roster Resource has already gone ahead and shuffled the 30-year-old righty from the Opening Day bullpen to the projected injured list to open the season. Of course that is not the be-all, end-all, but there's certainly cause for concern.

Swanson, also 30, missed some time recently to be with his four-year old son, Toby, who was injured in a car accident. Erik has been back with the Blue Jays for a few weeks now, but the process of getting ramped back up has been slowed. The right-hander is working through right forearm tightness but, similarly to Romano, had an MRI reveal no real structural damage.

During spring, it's best to err on the side of caution and shut players down as soon as any red flags pop up. However, it's hard not to worry now that we're so close to the start of the 2024 regular season.

Missing one or both of Romano and Swanson would put the Blue Jays at an automatic disadvantage to start the year. The club's bullpen as a whole is a bit underrated and typically flies under the radar, but the likes of Zach Pop and Nate Pearson are first in line to replace these two back-end stars which is suboptimal.

Last year, Romano made 59 appearances and earned 36 saves for the Jays. He earned his second straight All-Star Game appearance, too, and while all of his outings weren't even close to stress-free, he's done an excellent job at being a durable, reliable closer for this team. If he needs to miss time and go on the injured list, let's cross our fingers it'll only be for a short while.

Swanson made 69 appearances of his own last year. The five-year veteran posted a cool 2.97 ERA, 3.51 FIP and 143 ERA+ in what was his first in Toronto. He struck out over 10 batters per nine innings and was one of Schneider's most oft-used options out of the 'pen. He will fill a very similar role this season.

If a trip to the injured list is looming, Yimi Garcia is the top internal candidate to close games. The right-hander made a career-high 73 appearances in 2023 and struck out batters at a higher rate than he ever has before throughout his nine-year career. Garcia served as the Marlins' closer back in 2021, earning 15 saves, so his experience in such a role will be heavily leaned on if his services are required.