The Toronto Blue Jays need to move Joe Biagini to their bullpen now, more than ever.
The Toronto Blue Jays need to do something about their bullpen situation. The starting rotation was supposed to be the saving grace of this team in 2018. The starting five were supposed to carry a questionable offense and keep Canada’s team somewhere around the Wild Card hunt. Well, here we are a week into May and the rotation has not been as reliable as they were supposed to be.
At the time of writing, the rotation has been responsible for a 10-14 record, a 5.40 ERA and 193.1 innings pitched. On average, the starters have seen between 5 and 6 innings per start. IF it were closer to six, we wouldn’t have as much of a problem. But, with outings that last 5 innings, or sometimes fewer, the rotation is being called upon to work more. Toronto’s bullpen has seen 117.2 IP and has outperformed expectations with a 3.06 combined ERA.
Low risk arms like John Axford, Tyler Clippard and Sueng Hwan Oh have been rather effective in their early time with the Blue Jays. The question remains how much longer they can maintain this. With such high inning totals on these arms, it is not realistic to expect that the good times would continue. Bullpens are volatile at the best of times. A tired bullpen can be disastrous.
What would help spread the workload is a long-man of sorts, a guy who can throw multiple innings and create a bridge to the later innings, which would save arms. The team has started using Axford in that role. And, he told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet that he is willing to step into the role since he feels very good this season. He’s happy to provide the team with what they need. But, at what cost? Extra innings in May could cost him in August. If he is feeling good and is being effective, one certainly can see why John Gibbons would run him out there. But, adding Biagini would make this less of a necessity.
Biagini has been tried in the starter’s role and it has not gone well for him. His most recent outing in Cleveland aside, last season, we saw what an extended presence in that role does for him. As a starter, his ERA is 5.97, where it is 3.44 as a reliever. Consider this: according to Baseball Reference, batters are hitting .248 against Biagini when he faces them for the first time as a reliever. When he is a starter the numbers look like this: 1st PA- .253, 2nd PA- .320, 3rd PA- .281. Batters are having more success against Biagini the more they seem him in a game. Moving him to a role that limits the number of times through an order makes sense for him.
The Toronto Blue Jays were dealt a significant blow to their bullpen as closer, Roberto Osuna, was arrested for assaulting a woman. Adding Biagini to the bullpen makes sense now, more than ever, because the Blue Jays will have a tough time replacing one of the better closers in baseball. Clippard, Axford and Oh all have closing experience, making them likely to see some opportunities in that role. That removes options from the earlier innings, which creates a bit of a talent gap. Now, the front office could reach down and ask others to fill in an inning at a time, but when they have such an obvious solution in Biagini, it doesn’t make sense to avoid.
Having said that, it actually does make sense that the club would be reluctant to do this. We have already mentioned how inconsistent the rotation has been thus far. They are an injury away from being very exposed. If something should happen (knock on all the wood you can find), they will be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement in AAA. Biagini is the most logical one to step in. Ryan Borucki has been mentioned as a possible starting option, but he’s had a rough start to the season (his most recent start aside) and is somewhat of an unknown commodity in a big league rotation. So, starting depth is rather scarce in Toronto. So, it is understandable if the Blue Jays don’t want to cut into that depth.
Acknowledging that doesn’t mean I agree with it. IF the Blue Jays believe they can compete this season, they have to take every opportunity to put their best product on the field. At this point, Biagini in their bullpen is just that. He gives them an effective reliever who can provide two or three innings, which will reduce the workload for some arms that are quickly on pace to pitch a tonne. Adding Biagini to the ‘pen also allows Toronto to now find an option (or two) to replace Osuna.
It makes too much sense for the Toronto Blue Jays to move Joe Biagini to their bullpen, now more than ever.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO AND SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.