The club lacked reliable starters behind Hyun-Jin Ryu, but didn’t seem to run out of weapons to tackle this issue.
While the Jays weren’t sure what they were going to get from Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Nate Pearson, Ross Stripling or Tanner Roark, there was also a whole different set of contenders like Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch, Anthony Kay, TJ Zeuch and even Julian Merryweather. Some of those who didn’t make the rotation were positioned to play boxing roles like they did in 2020, and the team signed three new relievers on MLB deals to bolster a group that had been a force for much of this season.
While the front office had no reason to believe they had assembled an elite pitching team, it at least looked like they would have depth. Nearly half of the 2021 season, however, that didn’t make it to script. Some of the question marks, like Matz and Ray, have exceeded expectations, but this club has been disappointed with their pitching depth time and time again, especially in a reliever box that has been an anchor for Toronto these days. last few weeks.
The Blue Jays opened the season with 15 pitchers on the roster, and overall they’ve been strong. This group combined for 411.1 innings of 3.92 ERA bullets, good for 2.8 WAR. Those numbers improve to 471 frames with an ERA of 3.76 and WAR of 4.2 if you include the exchange of Zeuch for Ray, who was always scored for a spin point and joined the team on April 12.
Unfortunately for the club, when he had to call in someone outside the group, reinforcements fell apart. Here’s how the 12 pitchers who have joined the team since opening day (minus Ray) have done:
While it’s unfair to expect your deep pitching to excel – or even give you league average production – you need your Plan B, C, and D guys to keep you afloat. In the case of the Blue Jays, this did not happen. In a season with the lowest average ERA (4.14) in six years, the fact that 19.9% of your innings are well below replacement level can be devastating.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that there are legitimate reasons to believe that the next pitchers they call might do better. Patrick Murphy is back on the injured list and his combination of a 96 mph lead and a curveball with strong movement gives cause for optimism.
Adding Jacob Barnes isn’t anyone’s idea of a bullpen savior, but his blow has been a playground in the past and he looked strong with the Los Angels. Angeles in 2020 despite an inflated ERA. Meanwhile, Alek Manoah should continue to improve, and the Pearson and Hatch duo have a role to play. They should also have less need of their emergency players, as some subsets of the eight relievers currently on IL will return, displacing some of their underachieving brethren – and Matz is also expected to return soon.
Unless they’re really unlucky, the Blue Jays pitching staff shouldn’t be as reliant on waivers, minor trades and triple A orders in the second half of the season as they were in the season. first. It would be difficult to replicate the bad luck they had with the reliever injuries in particular.
But the damage is already done. The failure of their depth to perform wasted a number of winnable games and gave them an uphill battle to qualify for the playoffs – a FanGraphs quest currently gives a 30% chance of success, up from a 50.7 chance in the game. opening of the season.
It’s no secret that you need weapons that perform far better than what you can put on a roster to mount a postseason race in a 162-game campaign. The Blue Jays appeared to have covered this at the start of this season, but 70 games later that has not been confirmed.