Dear Bullpen – Now What?

The Jays might have a busy bullpen this year.

So maybe it was a good thing Alex Anthopoulos loaded up on all those relievers after all…

Take a look at the carnage that is the Blue Jays bullpen:

David Purcey – Once considered a lock to be the lefty in the ‘pen, Purcey has had control issues all spring. Though sporting a nifty 3.52 ERA, he has walked seven (with one hit batter) in only 7.2 IP for a WHIP of 1.70.

Jesse Carlson – Also thought to be a candidate for a ‘pen lefty, he has only appeared in one game. The results? 1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 18.00 ERA, and now a case of shoulder inflammation. Not pretty.

Scott Richmond – Might have always been a long shot to make the team, but he is now definitely out after allowing 3 ER in 2 IP in his only appearance before also being sidelined by shoulder inflammation.

Wil Ledezma – Claimed on waivers from the Pirates, the lefty never really had a shot unless he dominated spring training. He didn’t. (4.2 IP, 9.64 ERA)

Josh Roenicke – In a crowded bullpen he needed a good spring, but a 6.75 ERA will only hurt his chances.

Octavio Dotel – 5 ER from 9 H in 3 IP for an ERA of 15.00 and a WHIP of 3.00, plus a strained left hamstring. Doesn’t look like one of the closer favourites will start the season as the shut-down man, if he starts the season at all (DL is likely).

Frank Francisco – The Mike Napoli trade just got more controversial. With J.P. Arencibia having an awful time at the plate this spring, many fans will wonder why he was let go, especially with the news that the man they acquired for him has a scheduled visit to see Dr. James Andrews. The notorious Dr. James Andrews. If the news is bad, the early closer favourite might be lost for the season.

So now what?

Thankfully we have options.

The strong spring performance of Jessie Litsch has forced Marc Rzepczynski into a relief role for now. A similarly impressive March for Jo-Jo Reyes might be enough to earn him a spot on the team, likely in the pen.

Shawn Camp and Jason Frasor were always locks to make the team, and they’ve done nothing to prove otherwise.

If neither Dotel nor Francisco can start the season, Jon Rauch will likely slide right into the closers role. Despite battling a sore neck early in camp, the Friendly Giant has rebounded with 6 scoreless innings,

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and with his closing experience last year (21/25 in save opps with Minnesota), he looks like a lock.

The most interesting conundrum will likely come down to three guys who were thought to be fringe guys. From all the preseason conversation I’ve heard, Casey Janssen, Rommie Lewis, and Carlos Villanueva were all on the cut line, likely battling for one, or maybe zero, spots. Now, with the struggles of Purcey, and the potential DL stints of Dotel and Francisco, there is a very good chance that two, if not all three, make the team.

If Farrell is going by spring stats, then they should all be locks:

Janssen: 7.1 IP, 7 K/1 BB, 1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP

Villanueva: 9.2 IP, 6 K/2 BB, 0.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP

Lewis: 6.2 IP, 7 K/1 BB, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

Whatever happens we have options. Things aren’t as bad as they seem.

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