Toronto is trying to survive after starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison were all placed on the disabled list in recent weeks. That has left a heavy burden on the relievers, who have seen their workload increase with the lack of innings being eaten up by the starting rotation.
The problem has become a growing concern for manager John Farrell, who held a pregame meeting on Saturday with Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver to go over their status for the coming days.
"They've been pushed, and there are some guys that need some recovery time," Farrell said. "We go into every game with a certain plan, and that can change based on how far our starter goes.
"But what has been good is that our offense continues to keep us in the game, and we [have] come back from some deficits that might have been there early, mid-innings -- and all of a sudden, you're going back to those guys that you lean on late in the game."
One of those situations arose on Thursday night. Toronto found itself trailing by three runs heading into the seventh inning. But with the offense performing better than it has all season, Farrell felt the game was still within reach.
That prompted the use of Cordero, Oliver and Janssen in the following three innings in an effort to keep the score within striking distance. The trio, along with Frasor and left-hander Luis Perez, have allowed the Blue Jays to survive with a struggling staff. But there's only so much that they can do.
Farrell said prior to Saturday's matinee affair against the Angels that Oliver and Frasor would receive a day off, after combining to make four appearances in the past three games. The same will likely apply to Janssen, who entered play against Los Angeles having pitched on back-to-back days.
There's no easy solution. But what's clear is that the Blue Jays will have to get more out of David Pauley, Jesse Chavez and Scott Richmond -- who all have the capability of throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen. That trio will be relied upon to eat up some valuable time on the mound.
"That's why the guys that have the ability to pitch multiple innings become critical for us to be able to bridge the gap until later in the game," Farrell said. "That's where you go in with a certain plan and when certain things go away from that, you're back into leaning on the guys that close out games for you. There are days where you just have to say, you're down completely, and we're at that point."