Coming into this year, the bullpen was once again supposed to be one of the strengths of the Blue Jays, but injuries and trades have forced the team to call-up and send down relievers on a weekly if not sometimes daily basis. Below is the list of relievers who started the season with the Jays on opening day:
Sergio Santos – Closer
And the current bullpen looks like this:
Casey Janssen – Closer
There are only two pitchers, Janssen and Oliver, who have been with the team the whole year, and both have been outstanding. Santos, Perez, and Frasor were lost to injury, Cordero was traded to Houston, and Villanueva was inserted into the starting rotation. To compensate, Jenkins and Loup were recalled, and Delabar, Lyon and Lincoln were acquired via trades with Seattle, Houston and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Rarely has a team like the 2012 Blue Jays suffer a staggering amount of injuries to their starting pitching, but to suffer bullpen injuries as well is a hard pill to swallow. These young relievers are being asked to go in unfamiliar and difficult situations as more times than not the starting pitching has not gone deep into the game. The opportunity these young relievers are getting is their chance to show the Jays brass what they can do over the final six weeks of the season and perhaps give the team something to think about come Spring 2013. The difficult part of the process will be the growing pains and the fact that coming into tonight that 32 of their final 47 games are against teams in the American League East.
Like any team going through injuries, the Jays will see what some of their younger players have, even if they were called up ahead of schedule. When battling in a division like the A.L. East, having several veteran relievers who have been through the battles is ideal, but this whole season from an injury standpoint has been less than ideal for the Jays. While the injuries pile up and the playoffs this year seem out of reach, the players are playing hard and battling everyday and not giving up, because anything can happen in the unpredictable game of baseball.
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From the couch…