Blue Jays aren't worried by bullpen's struggles

Blue Jays aren't worried by bullpen's struggles

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' new-look bullpen has not looked very good at all during the first week of the season. One of the club's perceived biggest strengths, has been an early surprise weakness.

Toronto's relievers had another rough day at the ballpark on Friday night as right-hander Jesse Chavez surrendered a grand slam to Brock Holt and Drew Storen took the loss. Three earned runs and a third consecutive blown save spoiled the home opener with an 8-7 loss to the Red Sox.

The Blue Jays carried a five-run lead into the sixth, but saw it quickly slip away. Starter Marcus Stroman left with the bases loaded and Chavez surrendered a grand slam to the first batter he faced. It was all downhill from there, but manager John Gibbons insists he's not concerned.

"No," Gibbons said when asked if he was worried about the early season struggles. "We haven't pitched particularly well that's for sure, but they're good. They'll fall in line a little bit. We really anticipate this to be one of our strengths, it just hasn't happened yet."

Toronto's bullpen converted just 60.7 percent of its save opportunities last season, which was the fourth lowest in the Majors. The expectation was this year would be better after Storen was acquired to complement Roberto Osuna and Brett Cecil at the back end of the bullpen. Add in the likes of Chavez, Gavin Floyd and Franklin Morales and -- at least on paper -- this is a pretty strong unit.

The first week on the job, though, has been a bit of a nightmare. Toronto has allowed eight consecutive inherited runners to score and the bullpen has a 6.17 ERA through five games. That number includes three home runs and 13 hits over 11 2/3 innings.

"I'm not really concerned at all about those guys in the bullpen," said Josh Donaldson, who hit a grand slam as the designated hitter in the loss. "I feel like they're going to do a good job, they just have to get acclimated to their surroundings a little bit and I think they're going to be fine."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.