Génesis Cabrera could be an underrated difference maker for the Blue Jays

Could Cabrera be the X-factor to help the Blue Jays reach the postseason once again?
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays, Genesis Cabrera
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays, Genesis Cabrera / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Over a week ago, the Toronto Blue Jays made an under-the-radar move in acquiring St. Louis Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera in exchange for unheralded minor league catcher Sammy Hernandez. At the time, the fanbase had a mixed reaction to the transaction, as they were excited in that the Jays were starting to make moves ahead of the trade deadline, but at the same time, they wondered, who is this Génesis Cabrera?

After all, they have been used to hearing the big names such as Josh Hader, David Robertson and others float around in trade rumors, they were expecting something from the Jays, but maybe not this.

Nevertheless, Cabrera is a left-handed reliever, something the Jays had lacked all season as Tim Mayza is their sole lefty in the bullpen, so adding another one could do no harm, would it?

Now, despite a small sample size of six appearances to date, Cabrera has somewhat impressed in a Jays’ uniform. In his debut with the Jays on July 24th, he pitched a strong scoreless inning against the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodger ballclub, striking out one and preserving the 2-2 tie at that point in the ballgame. The very next night, he was back out there, taking over for Chris Bassitt after a walk to J.D. Martinez in the sixth inning with the Jays up 3-2. Cabrera would bail Bassitt out of the inning and go on to pitch two scoreless innings with three big strikeouts including both Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. In his third outing on July 29th against the Los Angeles Angels, Alek Manoah had just hit Taylor Ward and was emotionally distraught after the incident, so Cabrera was called upon to finish the inning with the base loaded and one out. Cabrera, focussed and all, would calmly set down the next two batters to preserve the lead for Manoah and end up getting the win in the end as well.

His fourth outing on Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles didn't go as well, but it wasn't as bad as what his stats line showed for the night if it wasn't for a seeing-eye single that eluded Santiago Espinal with two outs that ended up scoring two extra runs for the Orioles. Added to the fact that he was asked to intentionally walk Austin Hays to get to the red-hot Gunnar Henderson, which was probably not the best strategy at the time. But he still managed to regather himself and finished off the inning. More importantly, he had a very nice bounce back game on Thursday against the very same Orioles, going one inning this time giving up only one hit while striking out two. Then once again on Saturday, he helped the Jays get out of a big jam with a huge strikeout against the Boston Red Sox to preserve a 4-3 lead.

Overall, he demonstrated some good command of his pitches and great composure, no matter what the situation presented in itself. To the Jays’ faithful, they may be surprised with Cabrera’s impressive stuff, but in reality, he actually has had a few solid seasons prior to 2023, as he possessed a career 4.13 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, with 205 strikeouts in just 196.1 innings pitched. However, he was just having a down year with the struggling Cardinals this year that has inflated his stats a bit. The Cardinals actually designated Cabrera for assignment prior to the trade, so it appeared they had given up on him to make room for others.

Well, certainly one team’s loss is another team’s gain and it appears as though the Jays may have stumbled over a hidden gem. So don’t look now, but Cabrera could be the Jays’ most underrated acquisition that will help them in the stretch run to the playoffs. By adding a second lefty to the Jays' solid bullpen, better matchups can be created for manager John Schneider's disposal and also Mayza wouldn't have to be overworked anymore in getting right-handed batters out. Now joined also by the recent trade for Jordan Hicks, along with the eventual activation of Chad Green off the IL, they appear to be set with key additions to the bullpen heading into the final two months of the season in search of their second consecutive postseason berth.