Clippard first up for Blue Jays' 9th-inning work

Veteran logs 2 saves with closer Osuna away from team

May 23rd, 2018

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays don't have an official closer, but veteran right-hander appears to be the preferred choice at the back end of the bullpen.

Toronto has been going with a closer-by-committee approach while is away from the team on administrative leave. The Blue Jays had multiple veteran relievers to choose from for the ninth-inning role, and it's Clippard who has received the first shot.

Clippard had a rough outing against the Athletics on Saturday, when the 12-year veteran allowed two runs over two-thirds of an inning, but he's allowed just five earned runs over 24 2/3 innings this season (1.82 ERA). He has two saves since Osuna left the team May 8 after being arrested and charged with assault.

When the bullpen is fully rested, it will be Clippard who gets first crack at closing things out.

"He has been pretty good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He had that one outing in the eighth and it didn't go well. I'm looking at it, but the way it's set up, I have no problems with him out there in the ninth.

"He's only had a couple of chances, but he has been pretty good."

Clippard's apparent promotion comes at a time when top setup man has struggled a bit. Tepera allowed an earned run in Toronto's 5-3 victory on Tuesday night and has allowed five runs over his past eight innings. There was some thought that Tepera might pitch his way into the ninth-inning role, but it appears he'll stay put for now.

"I do, there's no doubt," Gibbons said when asked if he had trust in Tepera. "We're going to need them all, especially with Osuna out, it shapes up differently down there. He's given up a few home runs. They're not going to be perfect every time."

Rotation questions

Right-hander Sam Gaviglio has earned another start, but the Blue Jays are taking a wait-and-see approach with . Toronto currently has two openings in the rotation with and on the 10-day disabled list, and while one replacement has been found, the club is undetermined on the second spot.

Gaviglio, who will take the mound Friday in Philadelphia, tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the A's in his last appearance. Saturday's start likely will belong to either Garcia or Biagini. Garcia is expected to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, and how well that goes will determine the Blue Jays' next step.

"Gaviglio will be Saturday and then we're just waiting," Gibbons said. "Jaime is going to throw a bullpen and we'll see what happens."