Does the Blue Jays bullpen absolutely need an upgrade at the trade deadline?

As we edge ever closer to the Aug. 1 trade deadline, it can be reasoned that the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen is doing just fine as it is.
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Despite currently being well-placed in a wild card spot, the Blue Jays have still arguably underachieved up to this point of the season. When considering the talent at their disposal, the team has certainly been too inconsistent at times.

One area of the team where this inconsistency does not extend to however, is the bullpen. In fact, the relievers are one of the better units in all of baseball.

Up to and including July 23, the Blue Jays' bullpen is ranked tied-eighth in the Majors in ERA and sixth in WHIP. They are also third in saves, tied second-lowest in walks and tied-ninth in batting average.

Why bullpen depth has been considered

Despite this consistency and strength, there has been talk about the Blue Jays strengthening their bullpen ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The sentiment was that quality depth was still necessary.

This was influenced in part, by the poor form of relievers such as Mitch White and Adam Cimber, as well as the decision to cut ties with Anthony Bass. Injuries have also been a concern, including Cimber and Zach Pop.

The injury factor became more of a concern, when closer Jordan Romano left the All-Star Game with back tightness. If anything though, his absence provided an opportunity for the Blue Jays bullpen to prove themselves.

With the Blue Jays wanting to give Romano as much time as possible to recover, he sat out the Diamondbacks series. And the rest of the bullpen came through with flying colours, save for a sadly predictable exception.

No Romano - no problem (mostly)

The Blue Jays bullpen pitched a collective 11.0 innings during the three-game set, allowing seven hits and four earned runs in the process. They also struck out 14 batters, while walking seven.

The only time the bullpen struggled, was during the series finale on Sunday, The Blue Jays entered the ninth inning with a 7-2 advantage and felt this was the best time to put White in.

However, any attempt to have this boost White's confidence went terribly wrong. He allowed three earned runs as the Diamondacks climbed to within 7-5, and Erik Swanson had to come in to get the final out.

As much as the Blue Jays missed Romano, Swanson knows there is a lot of talent in the bullpen. As per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, he said:

"It sucks that we were without (Romano) but he has to take care of himself and make sure he's ready for the long haul. I feel like the bullpen that we have is set up pretty well to cover something like that … the amount of guys able to throw leverage innings, the trust this coaching staff has in each and every one of us down there, you've seen it as the season has unfolded. You have guys able to throw in any situation and I think every single one of us down there are comfortable with whoever going in any situation. The type of diversity we have in that bullpen is a real positive."

You can certainly appreciate this mindset, when you have the likes of Tim Mayza, Nate Pearson, Trevor Richards and Swanson himself. As per Keegan Matheson of, manager John Schneider said:

"They feed off one another. They’re really aware of what they’re doing and they’re taking pride in what they’re doing. When you have a good team and a good bullpen, it’s a luxury to put those guys out there. We love our starters, too, but we love how they’re picking one another up."

Bullpen necessity highlighted by short starts

In reference to the starters, the importance of the bullpen was highlighted on the Sunday due to Yusei Kikuchi only going 4.2 innings. Once more save for White, the relievers did their job.

The bullpen was called upon early again, for the opening game of the most recent series versus the Padres. Alek Manoah had a disastrous second outing since his return to the Majors, which only lasted 3.0 innings.

Pearson came in first and pitched two innings, giving up two earned runs in the process. In fairness though, this was one of just a few poor performances in what has been an excellent season for him.

Jay Jackson entered next and did his job in throwing two scoreless innings, before it was time for the latest White (rhymes with hit) show. He gave up three hits and three earned runs in two innings, to cement the Blue Jays' 9-1 loss to the Padres.

Even though the Blue Jays also lost the second game of the series, the bullpen was back to its best. Yimi Garcia, Richards and Mayza combined to pitch 3.0 innings, striking out three while giving up just a trio of hits, zero walks and no runs in the 2-0 loss.

The Blue Jays managed to salvage something by winning the series finale 4-0. Mayza and Swanson each threw an inning, combining to give up just the one hit in the process. (Although they did both allow a walk.)

Good news now and in the near future

However, one of the biggest cheers of the day came for Romano, in his first action since the All-Star Break. He did allow one hit, but he took just nine pitches to record the final three outs of the game.

As well as the return of Romano, there is more positive news on the horizon. Pop was recently optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, as he continues his recovery from the hamstring injury he sustained in early May.

Additionally, there is the prospect of Chad Green returning from Tommy John surgery in early August. He has yet to pitch for the Blue Jays since signing with them, but his career 3.17 ERA and 1.022 WHIP are worthy of note.

Overall, you can appreciate if the Blue Jays don't want to stop at just acquiring Génesis Cabrera. However, the relievers are doing just fine as they are, with more pressing issues to consider ahead of the trade deadline.