Blue Jays’ Tim Mayza Looks To Keep Up His Quiet Dominance

Tim Mayza has been an undervalued bullpen ace for the past three years; the Blue Jays will heavily rely on the southpaw once again in 2024.

Nate Pearson, Erik Swanson, and Tim Mayza of the Toronto Blue Jays look on from the dugout prior to a game against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre.
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 06: Nate Pearson #24, Erik Swanson #50 and Tim Mayza #58 of the Toronto Blue Jays look on from the dugout prior to a game against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre on June 06, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Since MLB implemented the three-batter minimum rule in 2020, many left-handed relievers had to either adapt or die at the big league level. For Blue Jays southpaw Tim Mayza, that hasn’t been a problem.

Mayza, who has made headlines this spring for his batboy punishment following a pitiful 4-10 record in the Jays fantasy football league, has been a mainstay in Toronto’s bullpen since recovering from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him throughout 2020. While he rode the options bus for his first two campaigns after his 2017 MLB debut, he has quietly found himself the go-to left-handed reliever for the Jays as the seasons have gone by.

For his career, Mayza boasts a 3.47 ERA through 317 appearances, including 48 games finished and four saves. In his first full campaign with the Jays, Mayza often worked strictly against left-handed batters, appearing as a mid-relief arm who threw less than one inning in 35 of his 68 outings (51.5%).

Following the rule change during the 2019-20 offseason, Mayza saw an increase in usage, pitching at least one inning in more than half of his appearances in 2021 and ’22.

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Tim Mayza Had a Strong 2023 Campaign

He didn’t make as many long outings in 2023, but by then, the Jays were using the southpaw in more high-leverage situations, such as the seventh or eighth inning when a left-handed bat was at the plate. Mayza would come in to shut the door and set things up for Erik Swanson, Yimi García, and closer Jordan Romano.

Batters that Mayza came in to face last year with one out remaining before the ninth inning include Brandon Nimmo (Mets), Gunnar Henderson (Orioles), and James Outman (Dodgers), with the Pennsylvania product coming out ahead each time.

It’s easy to see why manager John Schneider leaned on Mayza heavily last year. For a good chunk of the first half of the season, he was the only southpaw in Toronto’s bullpen.

For his career, Mayza has handled left-handed batters with ease, holding them to a .209 average and a .566 OPS with 121 strikeouts through 478 plate appearances. He continued that trend into 2023, holding lefties to a .246 average, .291 SLG, and .561 OPS through 115 trips to the plate.

On top of his ability to pitch from the left side, Mayza is simply a great reliever, plain and simple. He gave up just nine earned runs last year, good for a 1.52 ERA on the season. His 1.3 FanGraphs WAR ranked among the top 30 bullpen arms in the game, putting him just ahead of teammates Romano and García on the leaderboards.

Mayza struck out opposing batters at a 24.7% rate last season and limited the walks to just 2.5 BB/9. His walk rate was slightly above his 2021 and ’22 values but still solid.

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He also increased his ground ball percentage (58.5%, putting him in the 97th percentile) and kept the ball out of the air (16.7% fly ball rate), which helped him limit damage in terms of home runs; he allowed only two all season.

Mayza led with his heater, ranking in the 93rd percentile in fastball run value (13), while working as a two-pitch reliever. He used his sinker 76.5% of the time and complemented it with his slider, which features over 38 inches of vertical movement.

Look Ahead to the 2024 Season

Looking ahead to the upcoming campaign, Mayza is set to be a popular pitcher in the Blue Jays bullpen.

One of the reasons the Jays’ pitching staff was as good as it was last season was because of the bullpen. Mayza was a big part of that, appearing in approximately 42% of their games and just four fewer than team leader García.

Nothing should change in 2024 for Mayza, as Schneider will likely continue to use him against left-handed batters late in games as much as possible.

Mayza has the added benefit of fellow southpaw Génesis Cabrera starting the year with Toronto after being picked up at the 2023 trade deadline. The club can now have Mayza work in a setup role all season instead of needing to use him earlier in contests when tough situations call for a left-handed arm. Cabrera can handle that workload and keep Mayze available for a later-inning opportunity.

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An underrated arm in the Blue Jays relief corps, Tim Mayza has quietly turned himself into a mainstay on the roster. If he can put together another solid campaign in 2024, the 32-year-old should find himself ranked amongst some of the top relievers in the big leagues.