Will BJ Ryan get one last chance?

It’s pretty amazing to realize just how far BJ Ryan has fallen these days.

He lost his job as closer earlier this season, before a DL stint sidelined him. I’m not entirely certain he was hurt, but Ryan clearly needed the break.

Still, most fans, especially during preseason, figured Ryan would be back. Most of us figured it would take some time, but eventually, our former closer would be our current closer once again. Yes, BJ looked horrible at that point, but the guy has been dominant in saving 30-plus games, and he had plenty of time to recover, rehab and come back strong…right?!

To his credit, Scott Downs didn’t just fall into his current (well, before the injury) role as closer. He took the bull by the horns and earned it, with his stellar work on the mound, dating back to last season. And it’s a good thing, too, because BJ can’t seem to figure it out.

With Downs firmly entrenched as the closer, there was no rush to have BJ pitching in pressure situations. Cito Gaston made it perfectly clear that Downs was the closer, and probably for the rest of the year. But fans had to wonder what would happen if he ever got hurt, and like practically every other Jays pitcher, Downs is now hurt.

Gaston immediately pointed to Jason Frasor as the interim closer, and with good reason. Frason, like Downs, has been fantastic this season, and was the obvious candidate to take over. Still, fans had to wonder whether BJ would now get a shot. He hasn’t been horrible lately, and in fact, hasn’t officially given up a run in 11 straight appearances. That stat is utter crap, of course, since Ryan’s allowed inherited runners to score, and he can’t seem to throw a clean inning, but still, BJ has improved ever so slightly.

Meanwhile, Frasor has struggled since taking over, and Gaston may be tempted to try Jeremy Accardo or Jesse Carlson next. The question is, will BJ ever get another shot?

I’m not saying he should. In fact, I would probably say he shouldn’t. But it’s an interesting dilemma to face.

This is probably BJ Ryan’s last chance to close before Downs comes back and ultimately tightens his hold on the job. The problem is…what happens to Ryan? His huge contract can’t be traded, nor will he ever be claimed off waivers. Really, the only way Toronto has a chance to deal him (and it’s still a loooong shot) is if he comes in, and pitches well when it matters.

So, if Frasor continues to struggle, and if Carlson and Accardo can’t get the job done, will Cito give BJ one last chance? At least Ryan has closing experience, and despite throwing beach balls for the past three months, he might be Plan C if Gaston is desperate enough. And I actually believe, despite being betrayed by his body, that Ryan has handled this situation admirably. No complaints, no whining, and no talk of getting back a job that he clearly hasn’t earned. Then again, nobody cares about that right now.

Again, it’s just pretty amazing to think about this whole situation. Back in April, if you’d told me Ryan would be healthy, with Downs injured, I’d have said BJ would have the closing gig. But he doesn’t, and I’m not sure he’ll ever have another chance to earn it back. It’s pretty said when your $10 million closer is done…for good. Unless he gets one more chance. Are you desperate enough, Cito?

-DL

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