Tim Mayza has been an underrated, integral piece to the Blue Jays bullpen this season

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

In the midst of what has been a bit of a hectic season for the Blue Jays, the bullpen has been a real bright spot, with their combined 3.74 ERA sitting top 10th in the majors, and they were particularly dominant in the recent sweep of the Mets. A lot of the focus has been on guys like Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson, or Nate Pearson, but Tim Mayza has quietly been putting together an excellent year and has been integral to the pen's success on the whole.

Mayza, who made his MLB debut with the Jays in 2017, is not only the longest-tenured arm on the team, but is also the sole lefty in the bullpen, and has been for most of the past couple of seasons. After a pretty uninspiring first three years in the bigs, he missed all of 2020 due to Tommy John surgery, but came back in 2021 and has been a reliable arm ever since.

Over the past two seasons, he has posted a 3.28 ERA in over 100 innings pitched, but this year he appears to have turned a corner. While Erik Swanson's splitter makes him an option against lefties, Mayza is usually the team's go-to guy against tough lefty batters, and he's thrived in that role, to the tune of 1.80 ERA in 20 innings so far this season. He's been predictably great against lefties, allowing just a .536 OPS in 45 plate appearances, but his numbers against righties have been great too, allowing a .669 OPS in 36 plate appearances. His work has also come in some high-leverage situations, with 19 of his 27 appearances coming in the 7th inning or later.

As a two-pitch pitcher who relies mainly on forcing groundouts, Mayza's stuff is never going to blow you away, but he's been outstanding in some key areas that have allowed him to thrive this season. His groundball rate of 57.1% ranks 17th among all major league pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched, he's in the 82nd percentile for barrel rate, and his walk rate and chase rate are above the 80th percentile per baseball savant. He's had great control of his sinker, which he uses about 75% of the time, which has allowed him to limit quality of contact, despite allowing a relatively high amount of hard contact. The key though has really been how he seems to be approaching at-bats. Guys like Romano or Pearson can go out there and just overpower hitters with their stuff, but Mayza has embraced the role as a situational reliever and has done a great job simply keeping the ball out of harm's way. It's clear that he's at his best when the hitter's off balance and that seems to be the case more often than not so far this season.

Tim Mayza has never been one of the big names in the Blue Jays bullpen, but to this point in the season, he's been an integral part of it, and if he continues to pitch like this, expect to see his role continue to expand down the stretch.