OAKLAND -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell must feel a little bit like a kid in a candy store.
Just a few weeks ago, his bullpen was in questionable shape in the wake of injuries to several regulars and the little confidence that their Minor League replacements were inspiring.
But thanks to the acquisitions of Brad Lincoln, Steve Delabar, Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ -- moonlighting as a reliever, at least for now -- as well as the solid performance of lefty callup Aaron Loup, the 'pen is much deeper.
Specifically, Farrell is pleased with the flexibility he's gained. Earlier this season, there were only a few relievers that he could really trust late in a close game. Now, his options have multiplied.
"I think it's evened out quite a bit, in their capabilities and their experience level and their success at the Major League level," Farrell said before Thursday's series opener against the A's. "So that lends a lot into maybe more of a known commodity of what you're getting in certain situations."
The manager specifically pointed to the abilities of right-handers Lincoln and Lyon to go an inning-plus in the seventh or eighth. The flexibility in matching up is greater, too, since the righty Delabar is effective against left-handers, and because Farrell now has enough confidence in the other arms to use lefty setup man Darren Oliver earlier in the game if need be.
All in all, it adds up to help the bullpen resembling "more of a unit" in Farrell's eyes, and less of a "two-tiered" system of only being able to use certain pitchers in important situations.