Jays bullpen steps up

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 AM ET

MILWAUKEE - In the wake of injuries to three Blue Jays starters, the call went out for others to step it up.

No group has taken that challenge to heart more than the Blue Jays bullpen.

Even before Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison went down with injuries, the Jays relievers were starting to put together a pretty good roll.

In the wake of last week's devastation, they haven't stopped.

Over their past 13 games before their contest against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, the Jays bullpen has worked a total of 522/3 innings, which is the third-highest total in the American League over that period. In those 13 games the relievers have allowed just nine earned runs for a 1.48 ERA while holding the opposition to a .215 average.

Going back to June 3, the Jays bullpen has registered a 1.54 ERA, which ranks second among all American League bullpens.

That bullpen, which currently sports nine bodies, will also contribute to the starting rotation on Wednesday afternoon when the Jays starter will come from its ranks.

It has been a terrific collective response at a time of crisis.

"We've cut down dramatically the number of base on balls we've issued," manager John Farrell said when asked about their recent success. "We've had guys go multiple innings. We've stretched out a couple of guys in some spots to take advantage of their abilities rather than cutting them short on one inning based on need.

"There were so many questions and so much talk on how will guys respond to this. Well, in their case the bullpen has responded extremely well. We've made some changes there with guys that have come in that has given us the ability of multiple innings and we're hopeful and certainly envisioning that to continue."

With certain members of the bullpen, such as Luis Perez and Carlos Villanueva, that has meant having them pitch multiple innings, which is what they are used to and when asked to contribute, they have excelled. Earlier in the season, the Jays long relievers would get infrequent action and the rust would show. But now they are shining.

"What we've been able to do is because guys get multiple innings we know there is scheduled down rest the following day," Farrell said. "Maybe a little more regimented work rather than managing the game situation with a number of guys available. Now, you put a guy on the mound and let him go at it."

So far, it has been working.


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