There aren’t many spots in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen that you could realistically qualify as a ‘sure thing’ heading in to the 2020 regular season.
Aside from incumbent closer Ken Giles, the contenders for a relief pitching role when the club breaks camp at the end of the month are a collection of journeymen seeking consistency and unproven arms looking to showcase their major league worth. It makes sense, then, that the team likely considers plenty of opportunities up for grabs even as the team is ten games into the spring training schedule.
There have already been a few small additions made — lefty Marc Rzepczynski signed a minor league deal last week — and according to the latest reports, the Blue Jays are among many teams kicking the tires on former Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh.
McHugh has been discussed internally by #BlueJays.
Long injury history and decent track record as a starter (4.14 ERA across 119 starts), but he’s potentially a high-end late-inning arm.
.206 BA against, 11 K/9, 2.76 ERA in 114 career IP out of the ‘pen. https://t.co/qTnSR9R5yY
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) February 28, 2020
According to Scott Mitchell of TSN, the Blue Jays have had internal discussions about McHugh, who has been given the go-ahead to begin throwing again following a procedure to fix a concern with his elbow.
The bet teams would be making by bringing in McHugh would be that he bounces back to his 2018 form, where he posted a sparkling 1.99 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 72.1 innings for the Astros, working exclusively as a reliever.
He also spent extended time as a starter in the majors, compiling a respectable 3.95 ERA over 119 starts in his career, and eight of his 35 appearances in 2019 were starts. He last pitched August 30, finishing the season with a 4.70 ERA.
Jon Heyman mentioned that nearly every team in the league has checked in with the 32-year-old righty, but perhaps the Blue Jays could offer an incentive-heavy deal on a one year contract and plenty of opportunity to be an important part of the bullpen to sweeten interest.
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