Following epic walk off-win, Blue Jays lose their closer to yet another injury

Toronto loses their closer to the 15-day IL after their first walk-off win of the season, but it might not be the worst-case scenario.
Toronto Blue Jays v Chicago White Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Chicago White Sox / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

After a thrilling 5-3 victory in extra innings last night, the Blue Jays have placed closer Jordan Romano on the 15-day IL with right elbow inflammation. The corresponding call-up move from AAA Buffalo is left-handed reliever Brendon Little who has already seen three outings for the major league club earlier this season.

Romano's injury history in recent years has proven to be extensive, including two late-season stints on the IL in the 2023 season for a back problem. This right elbow inflammation, however, is a re-occurrence for Romano as he suffered from a similar injury in spring training this season. Toronto's closer hasn't looked like his typical self on the mound thus far in 2024, sporting an ERA of 6.59 across 15 games while managing to lock down 8 of his 9 save opportunities of the young season so far. The Markham native has seen his stats balloon in May due to a month-long ERA of 9.00 across 9 outings. One can't help but wonder if his recent struggles have had any correlation to an injury of some sort like the one that's landing him on the 15-day IL.

Coming up in Romano's absence is 27-year-old left-handed pitcher Brendon Little to bolster Toronto's LHP presence in their bullpen. Little didn't exactly shine in his first stint with the Blue Jays in 2024, coming out of his three appearances with an 11.57 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP. Little likely won't face many high-leverage situations out of Toronto's pen but he's a good depth piece and an extra southpaw to go along with Tim Mayza and Génesis Cabrera.

Ben Nicholson-Smith reported that Romano didn't suffer any structural damage after undergoing an MRI, and will take a few days away from the mound in his recovery process. He also notes that Blue Jays manager John Schneider has confirmed that Yimi García will become the temporary closer in Romano's absence, and given García's incredibly strong performance thus far in 2024 it's well-earned.

Yimi's already seen a taste of closer action when both Romano and Erik Swanson weren't 100% healthy earlier this season, and his ability to still maintain the phenomenal stats he had a month ago shows he's ready for a more important role in the Blue Jays' pen. If he can dazzle out of the closer role the same way he has so far in 2024, it'll be García's job to lose when Romano comes back. Sometimes you have to ride the hot hand, and he's certainly been one of the hottest hands in all of baseball.

The Romano IL announcement comes shortly after the Jays had to place starter Alek Manoah on the 15-day IL as well, but coming off 4 straight victories, hopefully Toronto can ride their hot streak into a great month of June. Still under .500 with a record of 27-29, losing the closer might seem daunting but the Blue Jays are in a good place to start a comeback in the standings. This team's shown they have plenty of fight left in them and it needs to be shown sooner than later, before the season gets out of hand.