Blue Jays to go with a three-closer system

Blue Jays to go with a three-closer system

Blue Jays to go with a three-closer system
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will go with a three-closer system until one person emerges as the clear-cut candidate for sole possession of the job.

Toronto manager John Farrell has identified right-handers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel as the main options at the back end of his bullpen.

Francisco previously was the undisputed closer of the team but has struggled in recent games. He has allowed five runs over his past two innings and has a 6.23 ERA on the season.

"They're aware that we have three options to use as a closer on a given night, and we'll address that accordingly," said Farrell, who held a meeting with his bullpen on Thursday afternoon.

"That's not to say we're using a closer by committee, but at the same time we feel like there are some opportunities where there might be a better fit, based on the individual, based on Octavio, Frankie as well as Jon."

Dotel will be a candidate to close out games when there is a string of right-handed batters due up. The 37-year-old has held righties to a .167 average this season but has struggled against left-handers, who have hit .333 against him.

Francisco's numbers take a hit when he is asked to pitch on back-to-back days. Even though the sample size is small, Francisco has allowed five of his nine earned runs this season in just three overall appearances while pitching on consecutive days.

Rauch will also be thrown into the mix after beginning the season as the club's primary closer following an injury to Francisco.

Farrell said that there are a lot of factors at play when deciding which pitcher he will go with.

"I don't think that's a knee-jerk reaction; I think it's just the fact that we do have some versatility and some options down there," Farrell said of his decision. "Based on availability, based on matchups and possibly based on the hot hand at the given time.

"I think most importantly, [I] don't want any surprises to come their way once we get to that part of the game."

Farrell also indicated that he wouldn't hesitate to use more then one pitcher in the ninth inning. That means that there will be times when someone starts the ninth inning, but there will be another reliever ready to go in the bullpen.

Toronto's first-year manager said that Jason Frasor could be a fourth option for a save, but he likes what the veteran right-hander brings in the setup role. Frasor has combined with Casey Janssen to allow just eight runs in 40 innings this season.

When it's all said and done, Farrell is hopeful that this is just a temporary solution and he would prefer to eventually name a full-time closer.

"That would be the ideal scenario," said Farrell, whose club has blown six of 18 save opportunities. "We're just going through a bit of a rough spot.

"I think we have to be able to respond accordingly, along with the awareness of everybody down there, about what we're getting to try and settle back into more defined ninth-inning spots. I think we have the people here that we'll be able to do that."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.