How should the Blue Jays handle the closing duties once Jordan Romano returns from the IL?

When Jordan Romano returns, who should be the Blue Jays' closer down the stretch?
Toronto Blue Jays v Seattle Mariners, Jordan Romano
Toronto Blue Jays v Seattle Mariners, Jordan Romano / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

In the coming days, the Toronto Blue Jays will be getting some huge reinforcements for their bullpen as Jordan Romano nears his return after being out since July 29th due to lower back inflammation. On Wednesday, Romano threw a 33-pitch bullpen session and felt good in the process, and on Saturday, he will pitch in a short rehab outing with the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. If all goes well, Tuesday will be the target date of his return.

When Romano eventually is activated, how should the Jays manage the closing duties for the ballclub? With all things considered, they could explore three potential options.

Option #1 – Jordan Romano returns to his role as the primary closer

This option is certainly the no-brainer choice. Since Romano has been the Jays’ mainstay closer for the past three years and has done an excellent job in that role, giving the job right back to him would be the most logical thing to do. However, because back issues tend to be finicky, as was seen when Romano first encountered the issue at the All-Star game, came back but only to see it flare up once again at the end of July, the Jays may want to try and ease him back into the bullpen instead by using him more sporadically compared to before to maintain his health down the stretch.

Option #2 – Use Jordan Hicks as the closer for now as Romano works back up to speed

The Jays paid a big price with two starting pitching prospects to obtain the services of hard-throwing closer Jordan Hicks at the trade deadline. Hicks has the exact mould of what a shutdown closer should be, being able to constantly hit triple digits with his fastball while having a high strikeout rate in the process. As a result, the Jays could choose to use Hicks instead for now as the team’s closer, as he is certainly more than adequate as Romano’s temporary replacement based on his successful track record as a closer, while Romano can slowly but surely work back up to speed and aim to reach full health by the time the games matter most.

Option #3 – The “bullpen by committee” approach should be implemented

This would probably be the most optimal option for the ballclub to pursue for obvious reasons. In doing so, it would definitely help preserve the health of the entire relief corps because Jays’ manager John Schneider would be given the flexibility to use whoever he thought was most fresh and effective for any particular game. As it pertains to the closer role, this would avoid any potential scenario of the same closer pitching in consecutive games, thus reducing their effectiveness while increasing their chances of injury at the same time. In addition, this approach allows the manager to bring in the reliever based on key matchups and situations, which could be crucial in closing games out for tighter games down the stretch.

As a matter of fact, the Jays may have even started that already in recent games, with both Hicks and Erik Swanson sharing save opportunities in the past week along with Tim Mayza almost getting one on Wednesday before Hicks replaced him for the final out of the game. Since it appears to be working perfectly so far with no blown saves to date, they should keep going with what has been working. If proven to be effective in the long run, this strategy could essentially be vital for the Jays’ success in their playoff chase and ultimately in the postseason if they reach there.

Nevertheless, no matter which option ends up being implemented, having Romano back will definitely provide the team with the added boost down the stretch and it couldn’t have come at a better time.