Toronto Blue Jays May Get Key Pieces Back in Time for Yankees

The Toronto Blue Jays could be getting back two key relievers and a catcher in time for a series with the New York Yankees.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 04: Jordan Romano #68 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning in Game Two of the Wild Card Series at Target Field on October 04, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

TORONTO — Even though it may be mid-April, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider understands the value of potentially having more weapons in his bullpen and lineup in time for a key upcoming series with a division rival.

Speaking to the media on Friday afternoon after the Blue Jays returned from an off day in the middle of a nine-game homestand, Schneider hinted that Jordan Romano (right elbow inflammation) and Erik Swanson (right forearm inflammation) could be back in time for all or a portion of the series with the New York Yankees that begins at the Rogers Centre on Monday night.

Romano and Swanson, neither of whom have thrown this season for the Blue Jays after starting the year on the injured list, are scheduled to pitch in a game for Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday while catcher Danny Jansen (fractured left wrist) will be behind the plate.

That game will also feature Alek Manoah as the starter, so plenty of Toronto eyes will be on what happens in Buffalo with four key members of the Jays scheduled to play.

Ad – content continues below

“The plan for (Jansen) is to hopefully get two games in over the weekend behind the plate,” Schneider said.

If all goes well, Schneider said, it would be “great” to have Jansen as part of the catching mix against the Yankees, a team that took two of three from Toronto in the Bronx in their first meeting of 2024.

With Romano, Schneider said, “We’ll see,” noting Saturday would be his second outing in Buffalo. His first time on the mound came on April 11 as he recorded one out and allowed one hit while walking two. However, Schneider tapped the brakes on any concern with those numbers, or the ones posted by Swanson in Buffalo (13.50 ERA with two hits and a run surrendered while logging a pair of outs).

“More so just trying to get a couple of outings in before they get back here and hit the ground running,” Schneider noted about what the Blue Jays were hoping to accomplish during the rehab stints and that it’s more about health than Triple-A statistics.

While nothing is certain about their return and the timing of it, there are indications that, depending on how the weekend’s stints go in Buffalo, Toronto’s roster could be more formidable just in time for the Bronx Bombers to pay their first visit of the season up north.

The biggest piece could well be Romano, an All-Star the last two seasons while posting consecutive 36-save campaigns. Romano just missed our preseason list of top 10 pitchers in the American League East, but is certainly one of the game’s most dominant closers when healthy.

Ad – content continues below

“Just kind of basing it off how they feel after tomorrow and Sunday and kind of go from there,” Schneider said.

The return of Romano and Swanson could also have another impact on the Blue Jays bullpen. Southpaw Tim Mayza has gotten off to a rocky start in 2024 (12.46 ERA through his first seven appearances covering 4.1 innings) and Schneider indicated on Friday that part of the issue could be Mayza fulfilling other roles in the bullpen besides the ones that made him so strong in 2023 (1.52 ERA and 22 holds in 53.1 innings).

“I think we still have a ton of trust in Timmy,” Schneider said. “I know it’s been a rough start for him for sure. He’s been open and we’ve talked to him about that. He’s been one of the best lefties in the league for a couple of years, so we don’t want to lose faith in a guy after a tough start to the season. We haven’t put him in spots where traditionally we’ve put him when we have everyone in the bullpen. He recognizes that. We recognize that. The velo has been a little bit down. Ideally, you get him in some lower leverage spots and kind of get him going a little bit.”

With the Blue Jays entering a weekend home series against the Colorado Rockies with a 6-7 mark, Toronto is looking for a spark to find some consistency in the season’s early stages. Key players returning from injuries (and the ripple effects that come with their return) could be something to watch north of the border.