5. What will the bullpen look like?
The first half of the 2015 season was mostly mediocre for the Blue Jays, signs of brilliance and times of downright sloppy play had them hanging around, but not quite doing what they were capable of. A big reason why was their bullpen and the lack of consistent performances coming out of it. In the first half of the season the Blue Jays’ bullpen has a 3.62 ERA which placed them 15th in the MLB. They lost 29 games before the trade deadline by two runs or less. The potent offense allowed the Blue Jays to blow teams out with ease, however there were nights where they faced shutdown pitching or simply couldn’t produce an abundance of runs. These games are where they struggled. When the offense failed to carry the team, the bullpen failed to pick up the slack and take charge.
Losing some important arms out of the pen this offseason including veteran LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, and Liam Hendriks, while potentially moving Sanchez to the rotation leaves some gaping holes that must be addressed. Also frightening is the lack of a consistent left-handed specialist. Brett Cecil was showing some promise down the stretch, but injured himself in the ALDS. Aaron Loup had a very inconsistent season.
Perhaps internally the Jays will find another diamond in the rough as they did with Roberto Osuna this past season. There are a number of big late-inning arms on the market currently, but after seeing the package required for the Red Sox to land Craig Kimbrel this past week it is unlikely that the Jays pull the trigger on a move similar to acquire Aroldis Chapman. Francisco Rodriguez also is off the market after being acquired by the Tigers. Some bigger options still to consider include Tyler Clippard, Tony Sipp, Darren O’Day, and Joakim Soria among many, many others.
The way in which the Jays choose to address the bullpen will be interesting, whether they sign an elite free agent, make a trade for a big-name, find internal options, or sign a mixture of cheaper options as usual the options are all but infinite. We did see however that their attempt to use internal options and hope for the best did not exactly reap the benefits they expected in the first half of 2015.