The Blue Jays have 3 relievers with MiLB options that they need to make decisions on

There could be some juggling of the Jays bullpen roster soon
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

With the likes of Chad Green, Yariel Rodríguez and Bowden Francis set to come off the IL in the not-so-distant future, the Toronto Blue Jays will soon be getting some big-time reinforcements for their bullpen. Their help couldn’t have come any sooner following the disastrous effort of the Jays’ relief corps against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. After coming back from an early 5-0 deficit to take an 11-9 lead into the eighth, the bullpen would end up blowing it by yielding five runs in the final two innings to lose 14-11. The Jays would have easily won the game if the bullpen didn’t collectively give up nine runs over just six innings in relief of starter Yusei Kikuchi.

Consequently, the Jays will need to make some key decisions with respect to the relievers currently on their roster, particularly for the ones that have been struggling mightily in Erik Swanson, Tim Mayza and Génesis Cabrera. Despite not playing a hand in the Jays’ loss on Sunday, they have in large part been underperforming for the bulk of the 2024 season.

For Swanson, things haven’t been going well for him right from the start of spring training when he unfortunately had to endure a scary family incident, followed shortly by his forearm injury that landed him on the injured list for another month. Since coming off the IL in mid-April, Swanson has failed to find his usual groove, compiling a dreadful 8.78 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, while yielding runs in seven of his 16 outings to date. Although he has held his opponents scoreless in his last five appearances, four of it came when the run differential was already beyond three runs in low leverage situations.

In the case for both Mayza and Cabrera, they were the Jays main lefty specialists out of the bullpen down the stretch last season as they effectively shut down opposing team’s hitters the moment they made an appearance. However, it has been a completely different story this year for the lefties duo. Mayza has put up some of his worst numbers of his career, posting an abysmal 6.32 ERA and 1.79 WHIP with a 10.8% walk rate and just a 17.6% strikeout rate. Cabrera, on the other hand, boasted a slightly better ERA at 4.82, but his control issues that have plagued him earlier on in his career appears to be back. Opposing hitters have managed to reach base in all but four of his 21 appearances to date, as he has given up 23 hits and 11 walks in just 18.2 innings of work.

All three relievers were key in leading the Jays’ bullpen to be among the league’s top 10 just last year (based on ERA and WHIP), so it is quite shocking to see them all struggling mightily to start 2024. At the same time, they all happen to have minor league options remaining, with Swanson and Cabrera having one left, while Mayza actually has two. If the Jays want to get them back to the top of their game once again, they should seriously consider sending one or more of them to the minors for a conditioning stint. Especially since the fact that they will be having an influx of arms coming off the IL pretty soon, they can afford to have some of them work out their kinks in a less stressful environment with hopes to regain their dominant forms. Having the revitalized trio would be crucial for the Jays to have any success down the road as the season progresses.

So who the Jays should send down to the minors will come down to who they truly believe could still contribute positively to the team while they continue to work on turning things around. But whatever combination it may be, it won’t be both Mayza and Cabrera going down together because the Jays wouldn’t dare to take the chance in fielding just an all-righties relief corps that opponents could take advantage of. But no matter who they decide on, hopefully it will ultimately be for the better for both the team and the pitcher(s) involved. Then again, after watching Sunday’s debacle, maybe the team will require some wholesale changes instrad of just the minor tweak or two.