The weakest part of the Blue Jays roster is their bullpen. After acquiring so much elite talent for the lineup and starting rotation, in contrast Anthopoulos has done little to improve the pitchers that will close out 2013's games. On top of it all, it looks like Darren Oliver will only come back to the Blue Jays if they offer him more money than what he signed his contract for. With one of the league's best lefties ultimately set to leave the team, whether through trade or retirement, the bullpen still has some interesting scenarios yet to be answered. Let's go through them, shall we?
Lefties Aaron Loup and J.A. Happ
Before the trades for pitchers this off-season Happ seemed to be the 5th starter for the Blue Jays. His 4.50+ ERA over the last two seasons had suggested that he would not be the best 5th starter, but might be able to pick up something with the new team and perhaps get some middling benefit out of him. Now with former Opening Day starter Ricky Romero set as the 5th starter in the rotation, it looks like Happ will be the long man out of the bullpen with Loup going to AAA.
Why would Loup be demoted after a strong appearance last year for the Blue Jays? For one, Esmil Rogers, Jeremy Jeffress and Cecil (more on him later) are out of contract options. If they are taken off the 25 man roster, they will be subject to waivers, where each one has a strong chance of being taken by another team. Brad Lincoln, Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar have options, however with Cecil needing to stay on the active roster to avoid being waived he seems to be set up as a lefty specialist, with Happ as a long man ready to replace an injured starter. It's better to keep Loup active in Buffalo facing batters in key situations and getting regular playing time instead of throwing him out as a 7th reliever to mop up and possibly have two relievers face waivers. In addition, if things don't work out for either Cecil or Happ out of the bullpen, Loup can be brought up to facilitate either of those players.
Blue Jays & Their Bothersome Bullpen
Jays Journal | Jan 7