Blue Jays have wide array of bullpen options entering off-season

Ryan Tepera delivers a pitch (Charles Krupa/AP).

The Toronto Blue Jays have relied on their bullpen more heavily than any American League team this year, asking 25 different relievers to record 1,658 outs and counting.

Of course many of those pitchers will never wear the Blue Jays’ uniform again. Some are already gone, and more could be pushed aside this off-season. Still, many of the relievers currently in the Blue Jays’ bullpen appear poised to return as key contributors in 2018.

“Year to year, man, they change,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said recently. “Teams always look to address their bullpen, but when you look at this group out there, there’s enough of them, (including) some really good ones, where I think you can go into next year feeling pretty good about what you’ve got.”

A closer look at what the Blue Jays have supports Gibbons’ assertion. The Toronto bullpen presently contains an intriguing mix of relievers, including some new arrivals. And while Leonel Campos can’t be optioned to the minors after this season, the club has enough optionable relievers to create the type of unofficial taxi squad that many teams constantly shuttle between triple-A and the big-leagues. The makings of a strong bullpen exist here.

That said, there’s plenty of reason for the Blue Jays to add to the relievers below with even more relief pitching this off-season when you consider the volume of arms required to make it through 162 games. Should they acquire an established reliever or two, the flexibility to option arms to Buffalo would prove especially useful.


Roberto Osuna, RHP
2018 contract status: first-time arbitration eligible
Age: 22
2018 options: 3
3.60 ERA | 60.0 innings | 77 strikeouts | 9 walks | 94.5 mph average fastball
It’s been an up-and-down season for Osuna. On the one hand, he earned an all-star berth and was borderline unhittable at times. On the other hand, he leads MLB with 10 blown saves and struggled with anxiety off the field.

Regardless, he’s due for a massive raise. How big? Well Trevor Rosenthal’s salary climbed to $5.6 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. At the time, Rosenthal had 96 saves and a 2.66 ERA in 233 regular season games (plus great playoff numbers). By way of comparison, Osuna now has 92 saves and a 2.92 ERA in 202 regular season games (plus great playoff numbers). Osuna might not quite be at Rosenthal’s level, but he belongs in that range.


Ryan Tepera, RHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 29
2018 options: 1
3.42 ERA | 73.2 innings | 77 strikeouts | 31 walks | 94.9 mph average fastball
Tepera, who ranks eighth among all big-league relievers with 73.2 innings pitched, emerged as one of the Blue Jays’ more trusted relievers this season.


Danny Barnes, RHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 27
2018 options: 1
3.63 ERA | 62 innings | 60 strikeouts | 22 walks | 92.0 mph average fastball
Like Tepera, Barnes has become a fixture in Toronto. The right-hander brings some length to the bullpen, having recorded four-plus outs in 20 games.


Dominic Leone, RHP
2018 contract status: potentially arbitration eligible as super two player
Age: 25
2018 options: 1
2.53 ERA | 67.2 innings | 77 strikeouts | 23 walks | 94.4 mph average fastball
Even though the Blue Jays optioned Leone on four separate occasions, he was in the minors for fewer than 20 days, so they’ll have an option remaining in 2018. Leone has emerged as a cog in Toronto’s bullpen, but it never hurts to have that added flexibility.


Aaron Loup, LHP
2018 contract status: third-time arbitration eligible after earning $1.125 million in 2017
Age: 29
2018 options: 2 (but players with five-plus years of service cannot be optioned without consent)
4.02 ERA | 53.2 innings | 59 strikeouts | 27 walks | 91.9 mph average fastball
Even as a third-time arbitration eligible pitcher, Loup wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive next year. Still, he hasn’t pitched as much in September with Tim Mayza and Matt Dermody around.


Tim Mayza, LHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 25
2018 options: 3
7.71 ERA | 11.2 innings | 18 strikeouts | 3 walks | 93.7 mph average fastball
Look past the ugly ERA, and Mayza has pitched reasonably well. The Blue Jays view this September audition as a chance to acclimate to the MLB level.

“He’s got everything he needs to be a dominating left-handed reliever in the big-leagues,” Gibbons said. “He’s got as good stuff as any lefty you’re going to see out there, but he’s got to prove to himself that he can do this.”


Tom Koehler, RHP
2018 contract status: third-time arbitration eligible after earning $5.75 million in 2017
Age: 31
2018 options: out of options
2.16 ERA | 8.1 innings | 6 strikeouts | 1 walk | 94.0 mph average fastball
Koehler has pitched better in relief, but his $5.75 million salary makes him a likely non-tender candidate. Still, the Blue Jays could look to re-sign him as a free agent.


Carlos Ramirez, RHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 26
2018 options: 3
0.00 ERA | 10.0 innings | 9 strikeouts | 2 walks | 92.1 mph average fastball
Ramirez, who has yet to allow an earned run at any level this season, can pitch multiple innings if needed. Gibbons said recently that it’s “almost a must” to have relievers with that ability.


Matt Dermody, LHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 27
2018 options: 2
3.98 ERA | 20.1 innings | 13 strikeouts | 4 walks | 92.0 mph average fastball
After allowing three homers in a forgettable season debut, Dermody has pitched much better with a 1.80 ERA and an opponents’ OPS of .576 since April.


Leonel Campos, RHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 30
2018 options: out of options
2.84 ERA | 12.2 innings | 14 strikeouts | 8 walks | 92.9 mph average fastball
Campos has performed respectably while riding the Toronto-Buffalo shuttle, but the Blue Jays burned his final option in 2017.


Luis Santos, RHP
2018 contract status: pre arbitration eligible
Age: 26
2018 options: 3
1.64 ERA | 11.0 innings | 9 strikeouts | 3 walks | 93.0 mph average fastball
Santos spent most of the season starting at triple-A Buffalo, and he could conceivably open the 2018 season in that same role.

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