With Zach Pop seemingly IL-bound, the Blue Jays recall Jay Jackson

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Not a whole lot went right for the Blue Jays during their four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. They lost all four games, had to heavily rely on their bullpen, and had young Canadian reliever Zach Pop leave the game in the eighth inning last night with an apparent groin injury. With Pop seemingly headed to the IL according to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Jays will turn to a Jay of their own in Jay Jackson.

Jackson's first appearance with the Blue Jays will make him the first player ever named Jay to appear for the club.

So why are the Jays turning to Jackson, a reliever without the ability to go multiple innings, instead of one who can? Toronto's Triple-A affiliate played a doubleheader last night, and three arms on the 40-man roster with the capability to go multiple innings, Zach Thompson, Trent Thornton, and Yosver Zulueta appeared in these games. So the decision was made to call up Jackson, who's definitely had an interesting journey thus far.

A former 8th-round draft pick by Chicago in 2008, Jackson is known for his fastball/slider combination, which has helped him strike out 15 batters in 10.2 innings this season. The problem Jackson has had this season is giving up hits, as I mentioned in this article a couple of days ago, but if he can limit the hard contact (three home runs allowed already) he'll be an interesting fit for the 'pen.

Now I mentioned the interesting journey for Jackson, and it's quite the rollercoaster. After cracking the Padres roster in 2015, Jackson went and played three seasons in Japan (all three with Hiroshima) where he dismantled Japanese hitters with ERAs of 1.71, 2.03, and 2.76. Those impressive numbers earned him a shot back in MLB, as he split 2019 between the Brewers big league team and AAA, where he had a lot more success. Following that season, he went back to Japan, pitching in seven games for Chiba Lotte, before latching on with the Giants in 2021.

San Francisco is where Jackson had most of his big league success, pitching in 23 games with a 3.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, all the while notching 28 strikeouts. In 2022 Jackson battled injuries, pitching to an impressive 2.29 ERA in 19 games for AAA Gwinnett, while appearing in two innings for the Braves. Toronto clearly liked his high strikeout numbers and already has two pitchers on the roster with experience pitching in Japan (Yusei Kikuchi and Anthony Bass).

Jackson impressed in Spring Training with Toronto, almost winning the final spot in the bullpen before signing a major league contract with the Blue Jays right before the season started. He'll now have a chance to earn the spot he almost won in March while Pop recovers from what seemed like a nasty injury. It's an unfortunate result for what looked like an early season success story. Brampton-born Pop showcased his nasty 2-seam fastball and earned himself higher-leverage appearances, but since then had scuffled of late, allowing five earned runs in his last 2.1 innings.

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