Despite small sample size, Zach Pop's turnaround has been a welcomed development

The Blue Jays needed serious help in the bullpen, and Pop has delivered with short notice
Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

After 42 regular season games, the Toronto Blue Jays have two glaring issues, hitting and relief pitching. While the former is going to need a lot more internal progression to even give the club an honest chance, the latter is already receiving aid from a hometown hero.

No, it's not Jordan Romano.

Brampton native, Zach Pop, was recently infused back into the bullpen after spending some time in Triple-A Buffalo to work on his game. And so far, it's paying dividends. In seven games, the righty has thrown seven innings with a 2.57 ERA, but his 0.57 WHIP stands out as he's looked terrific.

Making use of a simple yet effective arsenal, Pop has been able to get right hander to swing out of their cleats with the help of an improved slider that never sniffs any danger zones. Combined with a sinker that generates a ground ball rate of 50%, and you have a hurler that could be perfect in higher leverage situations if he keeps it up.

Pop's performance early into the season is looking like a massive upgrade from 2023, where he struggled mightily in just 15 games, posting an ERA north of 6 to pair with a HR/9 of 2.6.

The fall-off of Erik Swanson has been a severe black hole in what looked like a promising bullpen going into the season, and Jordan Romano still has some tweaks to make as his fastball and breaking ball mix isn't serving as the strikeout material we're used to seeing.

Yimi Garcia has already done his part in 16 games, shining with a blistering 0.53 ERA and an otherworldly ERA+ of 736 as he looks as a promising candidate to take over the closer role if Romano is unable to find his groove anytime soon (unless they prefer him in non-save circumstances, which is another discussion altogether).

The one who can't be ignored is Trevor Richards, who looks super sharp as usual with his changeup perplexing hitters in significant situations of maintenance.

But with Pop looking good, there is hope that he can form an unsung trio with Garcia and Richards to hold down the fort in late game situations while Chad Green recovers, and the rest of the bullpen looks to find their footing.

It's not going to be the sole remedy in the effort to propel Toronto closer to the wild card margin in the standings, given that there needs to be less stress and closer contests to take the pressure off the entire pitching.

However, the re-emergence of a prospect who was considered a "throw-in" in a trade for Anthony Bass two years ago, could make serious waves in keeping the team afloat during a challenging stretch.