For the third time this season Sergio Santos blew a save opportunity, tonight however, had to go down as the most spectacular of the three that he has blown.
Santos came into the bottom of the ninth with the Blue Jays leading 5-3. He gave up a first pitch single to Neil Walker, then struck out Andrew McCutchen but then served up a fastball right down the middle of the plate to Pedro Alvarez who belted a two run blast to center. Santos then got Ike Davis to fly out and then he gave up the game winning shot to Sterling Marte to give the Pirates a 6-5 win, the win was the Pirates sixth come from behind win.
As for the Blue Jays, this has become a disturbing narrative that keeps repeating itself early on this season. The Bullpen has had their struggles ever since they allowed six runs on eight walks in a game in Minnesota two weeks ago. The Jays have now let five games get away from them when the Bullpen has been handed a lead in a game.
After the game tonight John Gibbons hinted at some changes with the pen in general with Gibby saying that they really miss Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan in the back-end of the bullpen. It could be totally conceivable that Marcus Stroman gets the call to the Jays’ because the Jays really need McGowan in the pen to help Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup.
I’ve thought right off the bat that the bullpen missed having McGowan in the back-end of the pen where he pitched so well last year, add to the fact that Janssen is still on the DL and Neil Wagner was sent back to Buffalo in favour of a long man, which in turn have put more pressure on the back-end guys to work more in high leverage spots. Add to it the shortage of innings out of the starting rotation early on and it’s easy to see why Gibby is really considering putting McGowan back in the pen sooner than later.
As for the short-term solution, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gibby mixes and matches his relievers to get thru the back-end of a game. They could use Cecil or Delabar in spots too. How they would use Santos in games is anyone’s guess. I can’t imagine that they use him again in a save situation any time soon, so maybe they use him when a game is already out of reach.
If this early stretch of struggles in the pen it has made Jays’ fans appreciate Casey Janssen much more now than perhaps they had before.