For the past couple of months, the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen have been undergoing a state of constant flux as a result of injuries to Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, and Yimi García, along with losing one of their main rotation starters in Alek Manoah, leaving a four-man starting rotation to go with a nine-man bullpen.
Among those that have been called up to help fill in and stabilize the bullpen, the once-promising, can’t miss prospect in Nate Pearson finally showed what he is fully capable of producing at the big league level, and has cemented his spot on the roster for the foreseeable future. However, for others such as Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch and Jay Jackson, they appeared to be more just temporarily fillers as needed.
That brings us to the intriguing situation with Bowden Francis. Ever since Manoah was sent down to the minors to work on and rebuild his pitching mechanics, Francis has been yo-yoing up and down between the minors and the majors to help serve as a fresh bullpen arm when needed in the schedule. In doing so, he has done a great job so far for the Jays, having shown great composure and decent pitch selection in his short stints with the ballclub thus far this year.
For the season, Francis has a 3.24 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, giving up only three earned runs, seven hits, four walks and eight strikeouts over 8.1 innings pitched. This was consistent with his performance he had demonstrated with the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons for the year, where he sported a 3.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, with six earned runs, four walks and 23 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, which was tops among Bisons’ starters.
With that consistency, he certainly exudes greater confidence whenever called upon, unlike Thornton, Hatch, Mitch White, and to some extent Cimber and García this year as well, where many would get the feeling that they are bound to give up some runs the moment they make an appearance in a game. In addition, he has the ability to pitch multiple innings and become the long man in the bullpen that the Jays had sorely lacked for much of the year, and has definitely been exactly what the Jays asked him to be so far.
For those reasons alone, Francis truly deserves a longer leash with the ballclub even when reinforcements come off the IL in the coming weeks. As one would recall, he was the other piece of the puzzle that came with Trevor Richards when the Jays traded Rowdy Tellez to the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2021. Perhaps with the great turnaround by Richards so far this year, along with the emergence of the solid and dependable Francis in the Jays’ bullpen currently, the trade may no longer seem that one-sided after all.