Blue Jays Lefty Reliever: Is Tim Mayza enough?

With Tim Mayza representing the only lefty in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, JFtC reviews the remaining lefty relievers on the market

 

Typically I shy away from doing posts which suggest what the Toronto Blue Jays ‘need’ or ‘should’. With this post, I am going to make an exception. With the offseason getting closer and closer to its conclusion and Spring Training just around the corner, the Toronto Blue Jays appear to be short on left-handed relievers.

On January 8th, 2019, the Blue Jays 40-man roster holds just one lefty reliever in Tim Mayza. I like Tim Mayza and think the 26-yr-old is capable of doing a good job as the Blue Jays LOOGY in 2019. In 2018, Mayza appeared in 37 games, amassing 40 strikeouts in 35.2IP and posted a 1.32 WHIP. He finished the season by not allowing a run after August 19th, a span of 18 games. Over this period, Mayza tossed 15.2 scoreless innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 walks, and 19 strikeouts.

The 26-yr-old lefty didn’t make the cut at the end of Spring Training, being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to start the 2018 season. Over the course of the season, Mayza was optioned and recalled 7 times. Overall, Tim logged more major league innings (35.2IP) than minor league innings (25.2IP) in 2018.

At 52.2 major league innings for his career, are we comfortable with having Tim Mayza as the teams only left-handed reliever? His final numbers were helped by the strength of that scoreless streak I highlighted above. Had his season ended after allowing 4 runs on August 19th, Mayza’s ERA would’ve been 5.85 rather than a much more manageable 3.28 ERA.

According to Fangraphs and Steamer, Tim Mayza is projected to throw 50-55 innings with a 9.47 K/9 and 3.99 BB/9 while posting a 4.01 ERA and 4.14 FIP. Despite finishing 2018 as a 0.4 WAR reliever, he is projected to be a 0.1 or 0.2 WAR reliever in 2019.

Whether the Blue Jays are trying to win or not, is Tim Mayza enough?

 

It is possible newly acquired LHP Clayton Richard could swing between the rotation and the bullpen. Prior to returning to San Diego, Richard was utilized in this fashion by the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and 2016. It is also possible LHP Thomas Pannone could be used out of the bullpen to get him some major league reps and to have a bullpen capable of throwing multiple innings.

 

On the other hand, maybe it would be best to explore the free agent market which will allow Clayton Richard and Thomas Pannone to start for either Toronto or Buffalo. There are still a couple viable lefty relievers on the market.

 

Reunions

Aaron Loup (1.8MM)

The Blue Jays could resign Aaron Loup who was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for SP Jacob Waguespack at the deadline. Loup made his MLB debut with Toronto in 2012. Things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows for Loup in Toronto, as he had his ups and downs. The 31-yr-old had a down year and shouldn’t be looking for too much of raise, therefore, he could come cheap.

 

Tim Collins (League minimum)

Included in the trade with the Atlanta Braves which landed the Blue Jays Yunel Escobar, Tim Collins has had some success at the major league level. Unfortunately, issues with this throwing arm caused him to miss the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He managed to get back to the majors in 2018 with the Washington Nationals, posting a 0-0 record and 4.37 ERA in 38 games. He threw 22.2 innings, striking out 21 and walking 12. I would really like to see the 29-yr-old 5-foot-7 lefty in a Blue Jays uniform. It’s possible he would sign a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

 

Let’s Dream

Tony Sipp (6MM)

The 35-yr-old lefty made 54 appearances with the Houston Astros, striking out 9.78K/9 and walking 3.03/9IP. He finished with a 1.86 ERA with a 3-1 record and 10 holds. At 35-yrs-old, Sipp is still young for a lefty reliever and could be looking to sign a multi-year deal which should include a paid increase. Personally, I don’t see Sipp signing with a rebuilding club like the Blue Jays.

 

Justin Wilson (4.25MM)

Like Sipp, I think Wilson would be a great signing but highly unlikely. Wilson made 71 appearances for the Cubs in 2018, striking out 11.36 batters per 9IP but walking 5.43/9IP. He finished with a 3.46 ERA and a record of 4-5 with 16 holds and 3 blown saves. Wilson is just 31-yrs-old and will be looking for a 2-3 year deal.

 

Jerry Blevins (7MM)

The Blue Jays tried to get Blevins two offseasons ago to replace Brett Cecil. Maybe they will succeed this offseason. He’s spent the last 4 season with the NY Mets so it’s possible he could return for a 5th. The 35-yr-old threw 42.2 innings with a 8.65 K/9 and 4.64 BB/9. He finished with a record of 3-2 and a 4.85 ERA while registering 8 holds in 64 games.

 

Dan Jennings (750K)

In 73 games with the Brewers, the 31-yr-old posted a 3.22 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while striking out 45 and walking 23. He finished with a 4-5 record, 11 holds, and one save. Despite the low k-rate (6.30K/9), I see Jennings getting a tidy pay increase.

 

 

It’s Possible

Zach Duke (3.65MM)

After spending most of 2017 on the DL, Duke attempted to re-establish his value by signing a one year deal with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins dealt Duke to the M’s for former Blue Jays farmhand SP Chase De Jong at the trade deadline. In 72 appearances, between Minnesota and Seattle, Duke struck out 8.83 batters per 9IP and walked 3.63/9IP.

 

Jorge de la Rosa (545K)

The 37-yr-old de la Rosa was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 4th with a 0-2 record and 4.63 ERA in 42 games. He signed on with the Chicago Cubs, posting a 1.29 ERA in 17 games. Jorge de la Rosa finished the year with 59 appearances, 7.55 K/9, 4.34 BB/9, and 3.38 ERA.

 

Xavier Cedeno (1.05MM)

Cedeno signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox a year ago today (Jan 8th). He made 20 appearances with the ChiSox Triple-A team before making his Chicago debut on June 7th. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Cedeno at the trade deadline and non-tendered him this offseason. Cedeno has a 3.69 ERA with 174 strikeouts in 175.2IP in 249 major league games. Between the Brewers and ChiSox, he went 2-0 with a save, 34K, and 16 BB, in 33.1IP. The 32-yr-old may have rediscovered what made him so successful in Tampa Bay (2015-16).

 

Luis Avilan (2.45MM)

On January 4th, 2018, the ChiSox traded 2B Jake Peter to the LA Dodgers for Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. In 58 games with the Sox, Avilan posted a 2-1 record and 3.86 ERA while converting 2-of-4 save opportunities. He was shipped off to the Phillies on August 22nd for RHP Feliz Paulino. In 17 games with the Phillies, the 29-yr-old lefty posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He finished with 10.13K/9, 3.57BB/9, 9 holds, 3 blown saves, and 2 saves in 45.1 innings.

 

Jake Diekman (2.7MM)

The 31-yr-old missed most of 2017. Healthy again, Jake posted some very fine numbers in 47 games with the Texas Rangers. Diekman struck out 48 batters and walked 23 in 39IP. He was traded to Arizona for RHP Wei-Chieh Huang and a PTBN on July 31st. He didn’t fare well in the desert, posting a 7.53 ERA in 24 games while striking out 18 and walking 8 in 14.1IP. He was non-tendered and could be looking to re-establish some value after a disastrous final two months.

 

Closing

The Blue Jays could decide to take some long hard looks at some lefty pitching in the system (I’ve covered that angle) but signing one or two of the above free agents would add depth and experience to the bullpen. All of these arms could also be traded, again, at the Deadline. So, win-win.

 

 

 

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