The Blue Jays announced that closer Jordan Romano has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to lower back inflammation. Righty Nate Pearson was called up from Triple-A to take Romano’s spot on the active roster.
Romano was clearly struggling through Friday’s outing, as he allowed two singles and a walk over two-thirds of an inning before departing the game. However, lower back problems also forced Romero to make an early exit from the All-Star Game, and he didn’t make his second-half debut until nine days after the Midsummer Classic. It seemed as though Romero and the Jays had successfully managed the problem without an IL stint, yet the right-hander will now miss at least the next 15 days.
It could be that a proper IL trip will fully correct Romano’s back issue, and he’ll return in due course to help the Blue Jays during their playoff push. Unfortunately for the Jays, they’ll have to make do without their star closer for over two weeks, which could be a tricky proposition for a club in a tight postseason race, and considering the Blue Jays’ tendency to play close games.
Romano’s 28 saves tied him with Felix Bautista and Emmanuel Clase for the AL lead, and the Toronto reliever has backed up his ninth-inning record with a 2.79 ERA over 42 innings. A below-average 8.5% walk rate is the only real blemish on Romano’s otherwise strong Statcast page, and he has blossomed into one of baseball’s better relievers since taking over the Blue Jays’ close role in 2021.
The Jays bullpen has quietly posted some very impressive numbers in 2023, so Toronto might have enough depth to make up for Romano’s absence if he only misses 15 days. Erik Swanson is probably the likeliest candidate for save opportunities, but the Blue Jays might turn to any of Swanson, Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, or Pearson rather than establish a set closer.
Outside help could also come before August 1, as is often the case when any contending team suffers a notable injury this close to the trade deadline. Even with the Jays’ quality bullpen results, it’s safe to assume that the club (like basically every contender) is exploring additional relief depth, and Romano’s injury might make the Jays more aggressive in seeking out another extra arm. Chad Green is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is expected to make his Blue Jays debut at some point in August, so Toronto also has an interesting in-house reliever on the verge of joining the mix.