Toronto Blue Jays: Battle of left-handed pitchers for final bullpen spot

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 13: J.A. Happ /

The Toronto Blue Jays have transformed their bullpen into an area of strength heading into the 2018 season, but with Aaron Loup as their only left-handed pitcher, they’ll need another lefty to be successful.

Today’s game has become so reliant on using the right pitchers in every match-up. Teams like the Toronto Blue Jays are now carrying pitchers that can be matched up against both, left and right-handed hitters.

This has resulted in teams transforming their bullpen pitchers into chess pieces.

It was reported earlier this week, that the Blue Jays plan to carry seven pitchers in their bullpen on Opening Day.

As it currently stands, six of those seven spots look to include; Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Seung Hwan Oh, Danny Barnes, Aaron Loup and Simcoe, Ont., native, John Axford.

The Blue Jays could very well give the final spot to recently signed reliever, Tyler Clippard. Clippard is entering his 12th season in the majors, and the former closer has a ton of experience to offer.

Standing in the veteran’s way is that the team only has one left-handed pitcher in their pen, which means they’re better off going with another lefty pitcher over Clippard.

There are three left-handed pitchers who will be in the conversation for that last spot; veteran Craig Breslow, Tim Mayza, and Matt Dermody. These three pitchers are all capable of taking that spot, but only one player will secure it.

Breslow has the most experience out of the three finalists. The 37-year-old pitcher is entering his 13th season in the majors. Breslow was signed to a minor-league deal this past off-season.

Last season was tough for Breslow. Splitting time between the Twins and the Indians, he had a 5.09 ERA and a 1.557 WHIP in 37 games. This spring, Breslow has been far from great, posting a 8.44 ERA and a 2.063 WHIP in seven games.

It seems unlikely Breslow will get the final spot with those numbers, which leaves the battle between Mayza and Dermody. This spring, Mayza out-performed Dermody by a large margin.

Mayza has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP in six appearances this spring. In Dermody’s six appearances this spring, he has a 9.00 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.

Dermody is the more experienced pitcher of the two. Dermody appeared in five games for the Blue Jays back in 2016, and 23 games last season. Meanwhile, Mayza only has 19 games of major league experience.

The Blue Jays decision will truly come down to what kind of pitcher they need in their bullpen. If they need a pitcher who can pitch multiple innings, they’ll choose Dermody. If they need a hard throwing one inning pitcher, then they’ll choose Mayza.

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Regardless of who the Toronto Blue Jays choose for the final spot, their bullpen will be an area of strength heading into the 2018 season.