The way the situation has played out for the Blue Jays this season when it comes to left-handed relievers is very similar to what’s happened with the back-up catchers role. And that is, try as many players as you can, and then pray to the baseball gods one of them might just pan out. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, that approach hasn’t worked for either the back-up catchers role or their left-handed relievers.
This nickel and dime approach when it comes to certain positions is proving to be a huge failure for Toronto. After losing Brett Cecil to free agency, Toronto hoped that taking a chance on J.P Howell and Aaron Loup would pay off and they might regain the form that served them so well earlier in their career. Howell got off to such a slow start, then had to deal with injuries, and never did quite earn the trust of John Gibbons. As for Loup, he’s continued to be a liability. As he’s afraid to attack the strike zone, and more often than not allows the few left-handed batters he was specifically brought on to face to get on. Leaving a mess to be cleaned up by one of Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, or Dominic Leone.
2017 was supposed to be a season where Toronto continued to build on what they’d accomplished the previous two seasons and make yet another run at the post-season. For a whole slew of reasons, that didn’t happen and the Blue Jays in fact took a step back.
One of the many reasons for their lack of success is that they don’t have a reliable left-handed reliever. What we’re seeing now with the Blue Jays calling up what seems like every southpaw they have down in Triple A is their desperate attempt to find that left-handed saviour who can give them what they used to have in Brett Cecil or when Aaron Loup was on top of his game three long years ago.
Ideally, Toronto will need two left-handed pitchers in their bullpen next season. What we know is that Loup or Howell (who’s a pending free agent anyway) should not be tasked with that responsibility. Which is why, fingers crossed, one of Tim Mayza, Matt Dermody, T.J. House, or any of the other lefties the Blue Jays have in their farm system are hopefully ready to step-up big next season…much like what Barnes, Tepera, and Leone have done this year.