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Wagner promoted to bolster Blue Jays' 'pen

Right-hander will fill middle-relief role; Walden sent to Triple-A Buffalo
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added some more depth to the middle-relief section of their bullpen by recalling right-hander Neil Wagner from Triple-A Buffalo prior to Wednesday night's 7-3 win over the Astros.

To make room on the 25-man roster for Wagner, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Marcus Walden to Buffalo. Walden had his contract selected by Toronto on Saturday, but had yet to appear in a game this season.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added some more depth to the middle-relief section of their bullpen by recalling right-hander Neil Wagner from Triple-A Buffalo prior to Wednesday night's 7-3 win over the Astros.

To make room on the 25-man roster for Wagner, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Marcus Walden to Buffalo. Walden had his contract selected by Toronto on Saturday, but had yet to appear in a game this season.

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Toronto has been short a reliable middle reliever since the start of the season when closer Casey Janssen was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Blue Jays still have Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar at the back end of their bullpen, but there was a need for another quality arm.

Wagner helped immediately fill that void by pitching two perfect innings and striking out three Astros. It was similar to what Wagner did a lot of last season when he gained the trust of manager John Gibbons by posting a 3.79 ERA in 38 innings.

"He came into his own, he started out in Triple-A and put it all together," Gibbons said of Wagner's performance last year. "Came up and did a nice job for us. He has that big arm, that's what you like to see coming late into a game. The key for him is, he started finding that strike zone consistently. That's something that had been deserting him in his career until last year. We expect him to fill a big role for us."

The need for another short-stint reliever was more apparent than the desire to add another pitcher that has the ability to throw multiple innings. Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond are both capable of pitching in long relief and should go a long way in helping to eat up innings when a starter has to be removed early from the game.

Toronto's biggest weakness in the bullpen was having a quality pitcher to use in a tight ballgame. Gibbons typically likes to save Santos and Delabar for when the Blue Jays have the lead, but in the games where Toronto trailed by one or two runs late, there was an obvious need in middle relief.

A perfect example of that came during the Blue Jays' 7-2 loss to the Rays on April 3. Toronto was trailing by just two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning until Rogers surrendered a three-run homer to Evan Longoria, which put the game out of reach. That's now a spot when Wagner could enter in an effort to keep Toronto in the mix for a potential late rally.

"We have Redmond and Rogers to do [long relief] so it made sense to get a little more fire power late," Gibbons said.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Toronto Blue Jays, Neil Wagner