Among all the moving parts and recent drama in the Blue Jays bullpen, there's one name that fans may have forgotten about. Reliever Zach Pop is in the minors working through a rehab assignment and may be slipping out of contention for a spot in the Toronto relief corps.
Since landing on the 15-Day IL on May 5 with a strained hamstring following a rough series in Boston, Pop has been working on getting healthy and making his way back to the majors.
It's been a stop-and-go process for the 26-year-old. He has made two appearances in Triple-A Buffalo after shutting things down earlier this month following a couple of rehab outings in Low-A ball, per Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.
Unfortunately for Pop, and the Blue Jays, his two outings for the Bisons haven't gone as planned, as he now sports an 11.57 ERA in Triple-A. Both appearances have come against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and whatever Pop is offering isn't fooling the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate hitters.
His first inning of work came on June 21. He faced six batters and got two strikeouts but gave up three hits and a run. Not exactly a clean frame.
His most recent outing on June 24 could be considered disastrous, although his line is more flattering than it should be. Over 1 1/3 innings of work, he struck out three but walked two, one of which was the first batter he faced with the bases loaded. He topped that by surrendering a grand slam, but was only charged with two of the five runs he allowed.
Before his IL stint, the righty had appeared in 15 games for the Jays with a 6.59 ERA, although some of that could be attributed to his final pair of outings at Fenway when he wasn't feeling 100 percent. Prior to that series, he had a 4.38 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.
While a 4.38 is more palatable, it still ranks him at the high end of the Jays' relievers this year, and the arms that have struggled with higher ERAs are more established guys that likely won't be going anywhere anytime soon, like Yimi García and his 5.34 ERA or Adam Cimber and his 7.40 ERA.
So Pop is left to battle for a spot with Nate Pearson (4.68), Mitch White (4.50) and Bowden Francis (3.24), and now even Thomas Hatch and Trent Thornton, it seems. It is pertinent to note that White struggled during his rehab and still got a spot in the big league bullpen.
Even with the Jays seemingly in constant need of bullpen help, it still may be hard for Pop to earn a call back up to the big leagues if he doesn't first get himself sorted out in Buffalo and come up with more encouraging performances.