Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, once a source of strength, has been absolutely horrendous

Instead of Romano, Swanson and Mayza, they are calling on unknowns Cuas, Little and Pop.
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Not even the expensive Japanese Yamasaki single malt whisky he favours can likely dull the pain Yusei Kikuchi must feel after most starts. Back in April, he started a tradition offering a pour when the Blue Jays won games he’d started. Well the Yamazaki has only come out five times following wins; the Jays are 5-13 in Kikuchi’s 18 starts, and they’ve scored two runs or less in 8 of those games.

The problem? Run support, sure. But let’s not ignore the horrendous bullpen either. Or the lack of MLB-ready pitching depth in a farm system that — incredulously — is about to see its ranking tumble from bottom quartile to bottom quintile with the midseason updates.

This 2024 Blue Jays bullpen is eerily reminiscent of the May-June 2021 edition, that had a 4.57 ERA and lost 14 games, digging a hole even those powerful bats couldn’t get them out of. Fans may remember the names? Rafael Dolis, Trent Thornton, Tyler Chatwood, Anthony Castro, Jeremy Beasley and Carl Edwards Jr. Can we just assume now that Toronto general manager Ross Atkins learned nothing from that disaster?

No bullpen depth, no bueno

Because dumpster diving is exactly what he’s done again, replacing the injured closer Jordan Romano, ineffective and demoted Erik Swanson, DFA’d Tim Mayza and rehabbing Yimi García with unknowns named José Cuas, Brendon Little, Zach Pop and Ryan Burr.

The results? Inevitable. The 2024 Blue Jays bullpen has a 4.83 ERA, better only than the sad sack Colorado Rockies, owners of a .345 winning percentage, who play half of their games in the thin air of home run-friendly Coors Field, 5,200 feet (1,580 metres) above sea level, and by far the highest park in the majors.

Toronto’s 4.84 bullpen FIP is dead last in MLB, as is their -0.9 fWAR - that means they are actually worse than replacement relievers; and, none of Romano, García, Swanson or Mayza are currently on the 26-man roster, all replaced by literal unknowns.

Cuas is making history for the wrong reasons, and Toronto might as well call up their best minor league arms given anything would be better than what Pop, Little and the aforementioned Cuas apparently can offer.

Ricky Tiedemann, Adam Macko, Chad Dallas and Connor Cooke, c’mon up, you’re the next contestants in the Blue Jays game of “Let’s find an effective MLB reliever!”

Sadly, the 2024 season appears lost. The Blue Jays are likely headed for a sell-off ahead of the July 30 Trade Deadline, so Toronto might as well as well find out what they've got in those top available prospect arms at Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire.

Literally any replacement would be better based on that negative bullpen ‘wins above replacement’, and let’s not forget it was the awful bullpen of early 2021 that cemented Jordan Romano’s role as Blue Jays closer. Who’s got next?