Blue Jays need help in the bullpen. Toronto may not need to look any further than farmhand RHP Jackson McClelland
The Blue Jays Front Office has added several starting pitching options; however, the bullpen remains a work in progress. In the past, Ross Atkins added veteran budget relievers around Spring Training or Spring Training.
For the most part, the results of slow playing the reliever market have been fruitful. The Blue Jays got good results from Seung-Hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Daniel Hudson. Each of these relievers was also traded away for a decent return, helping to add depth to the farm system.
This offseason, the Blue Jays have said good-bye to Justin Shafer, Ryan Tepera, Derek Law, Jason Adams, Brock Stewart, and Buddy Boshers. They have signed A.J. Cole and Justin Miller to minor league deals and claimed Anthony Bass off waivers.
As we slowly, not that slowly, approach the beginning of Spring Training the Blue Jays bullpen looks like this: Ken Giles, Wilmer Font, Anthony Bass, and Sam Gaviglio. Shun Yamaguchi was signed to a two-year contract and will be given strong consideration for a spot in the rotation; however, it’s possible he ends up in the bullpen. Lastly, with Tim Mayza outrighted to Buffalo (torn ulnar collateral ligament) and out until 2021, Thomas Pannone should get every opportunity to lay claim to the lefty role.
The Blue Jays are expected to carry 13 pitchers (5-SP and 8-RP); therefore, this leaves two or three spots open in the bullpen. Not including potential injuries.
The first candidate I’d like to throw out is a little bit of a dark horse, Jackson McClelland. A righty reliever, taken in the 15th round of the 2015 Draft. He routinely touches triple-digits but is wild. He’s been left unprotected in 2018 and 2019 for the Rule V, yet he remains a member of the Blue Jays organization. Something has to be said that.
The 6-foot-5 reliever spent most of 2019 at Double-A in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats bullpen. In 32 games, McClelland posted a 0-2 record with one save. He owned a 2.98ERA with a 4.09xFIP and a 1.28WHIP over 42.1IP. McClelland struck out 8.93/9IP, striking out 42 and walked 4.46/9IP, walking 21 batters for a 2.00K/BB.
On August 1st, Jackson McClelland got the call to Buffalo, making his Triple-A debut with 2.1 scoreless innings. He allowed 4 hits, walking one, and striking out one. Jackson’s K/9 remained consistent at Triple-A with an 8.40K/9 but his BB/9 spiked to 6.60 for a 1.27K/BB. In 11 games, McClelland posted a 6.00ERA with a 5.90xFIP and a 1.53WHIP over 15.0IP.
McClelland posted a 75.4LOB% with NH and 64.4LOB% with Buffalo. He gives up a lot of flyballs with a 50.0FB% in AA and 41.0FB% in AAA which resulted in a 12.5HR/FB% (small sample size).
Since reaching Double-A, Jackson’s LD% increased from 15.3LD% (2017) and 16.1LD% (2018) at A+ to 29.4LD% (2018) and 20.0LD% (2019) at AA. He also posted an ugly 30.8LD% in his brief time in Triple-A.
The Blue Jays could use a power arm in their bullpen, especially, a guy who typically pitches multiple innings in relief. However, his BB/9 and FB% could keep him in Buffalo.
Not being on the 40-man roster will also work against Jackson. There are several other guys on the 40-man roster who might get a look before McClelland. He should get a non-roster invite to Spring Training, hopefully, open some eyes and learn some things.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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