clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What are the Blue Jays doing with J.P. Howell?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Suffice to say it's not been a good season when an xFIP of 5.46 is the best stat you can point to for a pitcher. J.P. Howell certainly hasn't been what the Blue Jays were hoping for when they signed him this winter. While that's unfortunate, it's also not a big deal, they hit on Joe Smith and whiffed on Howell, and even a 50% hit rate works out for the team.

He hit the disabled list in early June, and started a rehab assignment in Buffalo in early July that had it gone the full 30 days, could have extended into early August. He wasn't terribly successful down there, but after the deadline deals was recalled July 31st and has been in the bullpen since.

Except he's barely been used. In the almost two weeks since, he's made it into a grand total of two games, and faced five batters. He apparently couldn't be trusted for mop-up duty with a six run lead yesterday. To be clear, I'm not suggesting they should be using him - but if not at this point the question must be: how do the Jays then benefit from or justify having on him on their roster?

With left-handed relievers apparently scarce, it would be totally understandable if the Jays were carrying Howell to try and showcase him for an August deal, even if only to save a little money or acquire a marginal prospect. Perhaps he regains effectiveness as suddenly as he lost it, or he's over injuries that were causing problems. Or whatever, since this is really grasping at straws. That would be fine; there's basically no downside even he had bad outings, as the Jays are already effectively done and threw in the towel on 2017 by selling at the deadline. But that actually requires having him pitch.

Really, Howell being on the roster while hardly not being used and essentially playing out the string on his contract is the worst of all worlds. The Jays do not lack for potential interesting bullpen arms who could fill his roster spot and whom it would make sense to get a look at now versus just in September (if at all). The headliner would be Carlos Ramirez, but Tim Mayza or John Stilson would be fine choices as well.

They could all struggle badly - but at least have the potential to be valuable beyond 2017. Moreover, all are either minor league free agents or Rule 5 eligible in the offseason, so decisions are going to have to be made this winter,and why not get as much information as possible?

In the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes. But if would be nice to see an indication that the Blue Jays have some sort of plan to get the most out of the rest of 2017 - whether that includes Howell or not.