Its been a long time since the Blue Jays had so many options available to them when it comes to building their bullpen. Part of this has to do with the depth of quality relievers the organization has been building up for sometime now, while the other part has to do with the shear number of solid non-roster invitees Toronto has in camp this year.
As things currently stand, the Blue Jays have five relievers pretty much guaranteed to be with the team to begin the regular season. These players include Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, Aaron Loup, and Seung-hwan Oh. With Toronto likely to carry seven relievers, that leaves two spots yet to be filled. I wouldn’t want to be Pete Walker and whoever else is responsible for making the final decisions putting this bullpen together. Because beyond those five pitchers, there’s probably another dozen candidates worthy of consideration.
Of the non-roster invitees, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Al Alburquerque appear to be the front runners. If Clippard can get back to the type of pitcher he was between 2009-2016, he’s by far the best of those three. Although Axford is having a solid camp thus far (4.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 SO), he hasn’t been a dominant reliever since 2011. It’s likely going to take Axford pitching at the rate he has for the entire spring for him to earn a spot with the Blue Jays. Other than Clippard, I feel Alburquerque is the next best option when it comes to NRI’s. He’s been a proven reliever in the past, and in limited action in 2017, had a solid year (18.0 IP, 2.50 ERA, 1.000 WHIP). Much like Axford however, its been quite a few years since Alburquerqe has been at his very best.
As for the long-time Blue Jays with a shot of making the bullpen out of camp, there’s Carlos Ramirez, Matt Dermody, Tim Mayza, and Luis Santos. Depending on how Toronto plans on using Joe Biagini and Taylor Guerrieri, if they prefer to have them as bullpen options rather than starting depth in the minors, these two pitchers should be added to the list of potential bullpen candidates as well. Guerrieri is a special talent, and Toronto is likely to continue utilizing him as a starter for now. But given his past arm troubles, if he does have any further setbacks, transitioning him into a reliever may be what’s best for him if he wishes to have a lengthy career in the big leagues.
Anyway, of all the relief pitchers available to the Blue Jays, which two pitchers would you choose to round out Toronto’s bullpen?