Blue Jays: Who can close games with Jordan Romano DTD?

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays are off to a strong 10-5 start in 2023, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays with a chance to sweep the the Rays and narrrow the 3.0 game gap on Sunday. All-star closer Jordan Romano has played a significant part of that, saving a league leading six games in seven opportunities over 8.0 innings pitched, with 10 strikeouts against only three walks.

However, with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th yesterday, Romano was struck by a 91.4mph comebacker off the bat of Wander Franco Saturday and suffered a right rib contusion. He was still able to record the final out of the 5-2 win by throwing to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

X-rays were negative, and there doesn’t appear to be any structural damage. The Jays have listed Romano as day-to-day, and anyone who’s had bruised ribs know it takes some time to heal properly. He thinks he’ll be “alright”.

Closer Options with Romano on the mend?

Both Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza have saves this season; manager John Schneider has used them both in high leverage situations. Cimber converted 4 of 8 save opportunities last season and is 1-for-1 this year. Mayza is also 1-for-1 this year after a tough 2022, when he converted only 2 saves in 6 opportunities, not including the home run he gave up in the 6th inning of the game two ALWC meltdown last October against Seattle.

In 2022, Romano led the Jays with 36 saves, followed by Cimber’s 4 and Mayza’s 2. Starter Yusei Kikuchi had one save for Toronto last year, as did Yimi García. García has experience as a closer, saving 15 games in 18 opportunities for Don Mattingly’s Miami Marlins in 2021.

Other options include newly acquired ‘swing-and-miss’ reliever Erik Swanson, who had 3 saves in 5 opportunities with Seattle last year, as well as Anthony Bass, who had 7 saves in 9 opportunities for the Blue Jays in the pandemic shortened 2020, but is 0-for-8 since then in MLB save opportunities.

There is also of course Nate Pearson, who’s been throwing 100mph smoke in Buffalo with 14 Ks and 4 walks in 6.1 innings at Triple-A. If he is going to get a shot, he’d have to replace someone on the 26-man roster.

Hopefully the Blue Jays can use a “closer by committee” of Cimber, Mayza, García and Swanson based on matchups and situational pitching over the next week as Romano heals. Given he’s avoided the IL, Jays fans can likely breathe a sigh of relief given the depth options for high leverage, late inning situations. Let’s go Jays!