3 Up 3 Down: The Bullpen, Morrow and Stroman

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For the second consecutive game and for the seventh time in the last 15 games, the Blue Jays’ bullpen blew a lead.

Perhaps it was an omen when the torrential rain began and Neil Walker displayed supreme focus by coming up with a clutch it. Because lately in Blue Jays Land, when it rains … it pours.


The Bullpen Blows It … Again

At first it looked like it was a blip on the radar. Then after a few more occurrences, it was a disturbing trend. But now it’s become an epidemic; the Blue Jays bullpen simply cannot hold a lead.

How is it that one aspect of the team that was so good last season has suddenly become so bad this season?

It really doesn’t matter who it is, no Blue Jays reliever has been immune to getting hit hard early in the season. Currently the Blue Jays pitching staff owns a 6.99 ERA in the 7th inning and 7.14 in the 8th inning. In the seventh inning and beyond, their ERA is 6.00.

How difficult must it be for John Gibbons right now? Prior to Brandon Morrow’s injury, he was sidled with a six-man rotation and a six-man bullpen. How can any manager be expected to win when his hands are tied like that?

Having Todd Redmond pitch in a high-leverage situation is not something that simply should not happen, so in that respect it was almost a foregone conclusion that Redmond would struggle.

The Blue Jays bullpen is riding an incredibly bad stretch right now, and the alarming part is I don’t really know what the remedy is. Being handicapped by relievers on the roster without options like Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers certainly isn’t helping.

Morrow to the 60-Day DL

It might sound like a hyperbolic statement, but it really is conceivable that Brandon Morrow’s career with the Blue Jays is over. Now that he’s been placed on the 60-day disabled list, Morrow would be back in July at the earliest.

But by the sounds of things, he could be done for the season if he requires surgery on his finger. The Blue Jays hold a $10 million dollar option on Brandon Morrow for next season, and at this point they seriously have to consider declining it.


It’s almost akin the Josh Johnson situation all over again; I can understand why the Blue Jays were afraid to let him walk, but the injury concerns and the dollars attached to the deal were just too great of a risk for them to take. The same goes for Morrow.

Brandon Morrow has been the ultimate enigma for the Toronto Blue Jays the past five (yes five) seasons. And assuming he spends at least the minimum 60 days on the DL, that means Morrow will have lost 270 days due to injuries since the beginning of 2012.

This now marks the third consecutive season in which Brandon Morrow has been placed on the 60-day disabled list and missed significant time. Morrow has not remained completely healthy throughout a season since 2010 with the Blue Jays.

Welcome to the Show, Marcus Stroman

One of the few positives to come out of last night’s game was the announcement that Marcus Stroman was called up to join the club.

In somewhat of a perplexing move, the Blue Jays announced Stroman will be available out of the bullpen, and not taking Morrow’s rotation spot. It seems like this is merely a short-term solution until one of either Dustin McGowan or J.A. Happ struggle.


The problem is the Blue Jays basically have a gentleman’s agreement with McGowan while also trying to not upset Happ, so neither of them can be ousted from the rotation unless there is just cause.

One bad start from either of them will open the door for Marcus Stroman. He’s clearly best suited as a starting pitcher, but considering there are virtually no reliable arms in the bullpen right now, John Gibbons may opt to go with Stroman right out of the gate.

For the moment, Marcus Stroman is needed much more in the bullpen than the starting rotation, but that will likely change very, very soon.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.