Back during the World Baseball Classic, there was some controversy surrounding the potential for injuries in what amounted to exhibition games. The biggest and most significant injuries in this year’s WBC were to Edwin Díaz, who is out for the year after hurting his knee during a post-game celebration, and Jose Altuve, who was out for much of the first half of the MLB season after getting hit by a pitch on his wrist.
We just played another exhibition, the All-Star Game…and it, too, fell victim to an injury. Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano only lasted five pitches before exiting with a back injury. He felt it tighten up and he immediately left the game. As of this time, he is still listed as day-to-day and hasn’t been placed on the IL.
But, in a close playoff chase, losing your closer to an injury for any amount of time can prove extremely costly. If the Blue Jays don’t immediately put him on the IL, it will be very interesting to see what happens if they find themselves in a save situation. And if it’s anyone other than Romano, panic will set in throughout Toronto, as well as for all of his fantasy managers.
If Romano is forced to miss any time, there are four other relievers who all have one save for the Blue Jays:
Swanson has made 42 appearances, striking out 48 batters with a 2-2 record. He has a very solid 0.98 WHIP and 3.16 ERA.
Mayza is striking out a batter per inning and has a 1-1 record with an exceptional 1.08 WHIP and 1.17 ERA. Of this foursome, he is the lone lefty, which may keep him out of ninth-inning duties.
Pearson has been used in longer stretches and has the record to show for it. He’s sitting at 5-1 with a 1.07 WHIP and a 3.66 ERA. Realistically he’ll stay in the role he’s currently in.
García does have closer experience but has the worst numbers of this group. In 40 appearances, he’s 3-3 with an inflated 1.46 WHIP and 4.66 ERA.
Aside from injury, the game also saw a bit of an implosion from another closer. In the WBC, we saw Daniel Bard pitch so badly that he needed to take some time off away from his own team, the Rockies. Félix Bautista of the Orioles fared similarly in the All-Star Game, taking the loss for the AL, their first defeat in a decade.
Bautista seems to have a solid mentality and doesn’t get rattled too easily. However, the mental part of the game can often be more difficult to control than the physical aspect of it. The Orioles, like the Blue Jays, are right in the middle of the playoff race, and can ill afford to lose Bautista pitching on all cylinders.
However, if he does have a hiccup here or there, they have one of the best setup men in the game, Yennier Cano, who was also an All-Star this season. His numbers have been filthy this year. In 37 appearances, he’s been almost unhittable. He’s 1-1 with four saves and a 0.89 WHIP and a 1.48 ERA.