Blue Jays' bullpen excelling in high-leverage spots

May 3rd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

You likely spent the month of April nervously watching the Blue Jays’ bullpen walking a tightrope night after night.

More often than not, they made it to the other side and skipped back onto land, finally allowing you to exhale. It’s been a wild ride, but this group is succeeding where the Blue Jays need it to: on the back end.

Jordan Romano, your new AL Reliever of the Month, has been outstanding. He’s already saved 11 games, putting up a 1.46 ERA with 14 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings. There were some early metrics that warned of a regression, but his velocity has continued to climb back to his 2021 norms, and Romano seems primed for a massive season.

“Every time he comes in, it’s high leverage,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That takes a toll. I’ve seen it, but we’re watching that. Give him credit. He’ll take the ball every time. He’s not the one to tell you, ‘I need a day.’ I haven’t heard that from him in two years, the whole time I’ve known him.”

While there are 100 other stats to care about, we still love to focus on saves when it comes to a closer. Duane Ward still holds the Blue Jays’ single-season record with 45, set in 1993, but Romano should have every opportunity to take a run at that. Especially with this Toronto team determined to make every game a nail-biter.

The reliever who deserved far more credit, though? Adam Cimber. The submarining right-hander owns a 1.50 ERA through his first 11 appearances and hasn’t issued a walk. Add in his extreme ability to avoid the long ball, and Cimber represents the perfect option to keep a close game exactly where it is in the seventh or eighth. He’s not blowing hitters away with 99-mph heaters, but his way works, too.

Tim Mayza is also a part of this back-end group, owning a 1.00 ERA through 10 outings and earning the full trust of Montoyo.

As the season goes on, David Phelps and Yimi Garcia will be called upon heavily in high-leverage spots, and while the Blue Jays still have room to improve their depth, the pillars of this group are exactly where they need to be one month in.