FanGraphs has very little faith in the Blue Jays bullpen in latest power rankings
By Nigel Clarke
Overall, FanGraphs is high on the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the 2023 season, projecting them to win the fourth most games in the majors this year, behind only the Braves, Yankees, and Padres, and tied with the Mets and Astros. One area, however, where this optimism does not extend is the Blue Jays bullpen.
In their recently released positional power rankings, FanGraphs projects the Jays as the 13th best bullpen in baseball, behind division rivals in New York, Tampa Bay, and Boston.
In fact, the only teams in the majors expected to be legitimate playoff contenders who are projected by FanGraphs to have a worse bullpen than the Jays are the Twins, Orioles, and Mets, the latter of which just famously lost their closer, and one of the best relievers in baseball, to a season-ending injury at the World Baseball Classic.
It’s worth mentioning that within this projection, FanGraphs is expecting a steep decline from each of the three Jays relievers who pitched best in 2022 – Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson, and Anthony Bass.
Despite Romano throwing up ERAs of 2.11, 2.14, and 1.23 the past three years, FanGraphs sees him dipping down to a mediocre 3.53 this year. Meanwhile, Swanson and Bass, who pitched to 1.68 and 1.54 ERAs last year, are projected to regress to 3.79 and 3.77, respectively. If this type of regression does take place, the Blue Jays bullpen will likely be in trouble.
On the other hand, one thing the Blue Jays pen does have going for it, according to FanGraphs, is depth. They point not only to recent additions Bass and Swanson, but the “solid” Yimi García, the “funk and deception” of Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza, as well as the high-end potential of young guns Nate Pearson and Yosver Zulueta, should they appear from the minors at some point this season.
They also look to potential starters like Mitch White, Thomas Hatch, and even Yusei Kikuchi to possibly “shift into a long role at some point during the year” to further bolster depth, and mention both Junior and Julian Fernández as “high-octane arms” who could make an impact if and when injuries strike elsewhere.
Whether or not any of these depth pieces are able to stand out and excel remains to be seen. But if you can’t have quality, quantity is a useful consolation prize.
Still, with their projection, FanGraphs raises a critical question – will the bullpen be the Achilles heel of the 2023 Jays?
Want to know more about how FanGraphs views the Blue Jays heading into 2023? Check out our breakdowns of their projections for first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field, right field, designated hitter and starting rotation.