Until the Toronto Blue Jays get some of their regulars back from injury, a six-man bullpen is the way to go.
With Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind remaining on the shelf, manager John Gibbons is able to tinker with his lineup based on the best possible matchups because of the depth sitting right there on his bench.
Toronto ranks dead last in the American League when it comes to hitting southpaws. If the opposition brings in a tough lefty late in the game, Gibbons can now counter with right-handers Steve Tolleson, Nolan Reimold, or the newly acquired Danny Valencia, who absolutely clobbers left-handed pitching.
And the relief corps will not suffer either (at least for the time being). All the typical roles are fulfilled. Todd Redmond serves as the long man and mop up guy. Casey Janssen is locked in as the closer. And there are two lefties (Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup) and two righties (Aaron Sanchez and Dustin McGowan) for the late innings. Toronto’s starting pitching has been superb over the past week so the bullpen is well rested.
It also temporarily solves the dilemma Gibbons will eventually face as to who is to be sent down to the minors. Everyone is firing on all cylinders for this team right now with the offence reminiscent of the one we saw back in May. Rolling with six men in the bullpen means everyone can stay with the big club for the immediate future.
Juan Francisco, who was struggling mightily, has turned it on of late. The big lefty is batting .389 over the past week with four of his seven hits going for extra bases. You can’t take his bat out of the lineup right now.
Dan Johnson has come up with some clutch hits for the Jays, including a four-RBI game against the New York Yankees over the weekend.
Ryan Goins and Munenori Kawasaki continue to dazzle in the field. Goins with his range and arm, and Kawasaki with some sensational catches. The two infielders are holding their own at the plate as well. Kawasaki is hitting .294 for the season, and Goins’ average sits at .345 over the past 14 days.
Once Encarnacion, Lawrie and Lind return, there will be fewer opportunities to pinch hit. You’re not going to take the bat out of their hands. We will likely see the more traditional seven-man bullpen at that point. But at least for now, Toronto’s bench is looking deep and reliable.
What do you think of the six-man bullpen the Jays are using? Let us know in the comments section below.
Tags: Toronto Blue Jays