The Blue Jays have the perfect temporary closer on hand and they need to utilize him

As Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson continue to try and return to form, Yimi García has proven that he should be the go-to guy out of the bullpen.
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

On Friday night, Yimi García entered the Blue Jays' game against the Padres in the eighth inning and struck out the side in order, his fourth consecutive 1-2-3 outing. On Saturday he got the Jays out of a seventh-inning jam recording two outs, and lowered his ERA to 0.87 in the process. This has come at the perfect time for the Jays, since Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson, their usual top back-end relievers, have just returned from the injured list and have yet to look like their usual selves. Given how good García has looked, there's no reason why the team shouldn't ride with him as the closer until things change.

Let's start with why García deserves this opportunity. Obviously, his raw numbers are very impressive, namely his 0.87 ERA and the fact that he's allowed just three baserunners while striking out 14 over 10.1 innings pitched, but it goes deeper than that. His four-seam fastball is looking incredible, averaging 97 mph, the highest of García's career, and has reached upwards of 99.8 mph. His sweeper, a new addition to his arsenal, has also been lights out against righties, inducing just a .066 xBA.

His underlying metrics have been great across the board as well, highlighted by a chase rate in the 99th percentile, a strikeout rate in the 98th, an expected batting average in the 97th, and an expected ERA in the 94th. This has all come with García pitching in high-leverage situations, often against the opponent's best hitters, having appeared in the eighth or ninth inning in seven of his nine appearances. Put plainly, García has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball this season and easily the best in Toronto.

So why use him over Swanson or Romano? Swanson, who led the Jays with 29 holds last season, solidified himself as the team's primary setup man, posting a 2.97 ERA over 66.2 innings pitched in 2023. However, he started this season on the IL, and his first appearance of the year was a disaster. Swanson was brought in for the save against the Yankees with the Jays up 4-2 but allowed three earned runs while only recording one out en route to a loss. His most recent appearance on Saturday wasn't much better, as he allowed a run on three hits in the eighth inning against the Padres. That isn't to say he won't bounce back, but it's clear that right now, Swanson isn't at 100 percent.

It's a similar situation for Jordan Romano. Over the past three seasons, he's established himself as one of the best closers in baseball, but like Swanson, spent the beginning of the year on the IL. After managing to eke out a save despite allowing a run in his first appearance, Romano pitched a clean ninth inning against the Padres in his most recent outing, but a 393-foot lineout from Manny Machado showed that he may not be fully up to speed. He certainly looked better in his most recent outing, as he set down San Diego in order, to record his second save of the year. While he's been relatively effective so far, Romano has yet to look like the best version of himself, so he may not be as reliable as we're used to him being.

Of course, relievers can get hot and cold all the time, and Yimi García is an excellent example of that. From May 30 to Sept 1 of 2023, García allowed just six earned runs over 32 innings pitched but allowed seven earned over his last 10.1 innings of the season. He has a track record of being fairly on and off, but as of right now, he's one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, so with Romano and Swanson still not at 100 percent, García should be closing out games until further notice.