If the Blue Jays’ electric weapons had perfected the approach to trade deadlines, it might have been different

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In the tough days leading up to next Tuesday’s trade deadline, there’s no doubt that general manager Ross Atkins is looking for a power arm to bolster the bullpen.

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It’s also worth remembering that the Blue Jays had a pair on the 40-man roster at the start of the 2022 season.

Rarely does everything go to plan health-wise during the 162-game twists and turns. But the Jays certainly had high hopes for Nate Pearson and Julian Merryweather.

A pair of 100mph arms have always had the potential to be high octane weapons for a team to buy just that – and the fact that none can stay healthy enough to be key parts of the bullpen increased the need.

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Pearson is back in Florida, returning from an injury list designation that began May 4 with mono, then while returning, a lat strain.

Merryweather has been on IL since June 4 with abdominal strain and no signs of a potential return.

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Both pitchers have shown promising power in their careers, but have yet to translate to sustained success with the big club, hence Atkins’ priority and time-shopping efforts.

The Jays haven’t given up either – but let’s face it, getting Pearson back for a stretch run, while still possible, would be a bonus.

The encouraging news is that the current bullpen arms are enjoying consistent success. Add an arm or two to this group and it could soon become a strength for the Jays.

“We’re starting to see some of the good things we saw earlier in the season,” pitching coach Pete Walker said. “Trevor (Richards) throws the ball well, (David Phelps) throws well. And then it’s giving the ball to Yimi Garcia and Timmy Mazya and Jordan Romano and Adam Cimber.

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“So we have the pieces, but we just haven’t put the whole puzzle together. It’s as if we were always missing a little something. But the guys fought hard and I think we’re in a good position to race.

The pitchers themselves also feel some momentum.

“I really feel like this team will go as far as the throws will take them,” Sunday’s starter Ross Stripling said. “We are all very confident in the arms we have and our ability to get out. The (starters) are confident in our ability to get out and the bullpen is really confident.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Julian Merryweather throws a pitch during spring training at the Toronto Blue Jays Player Development Complex.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Julian Merryweather throws a pitch during spring training at the Toronto Blue Jays Player Development Complex. Photo by Jonathan Dyer /USA TODAY Sports

BY GEORGES

What you’ve seen from George Springer in recent weeks is ideally what the Jays will get from their star center fielder for the rest of the season.

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Each of the three games in Boston last weekend provided a snapshot. In reverse order, on Sunday, Springer started the game with a single, then a quick steal from second base that characterized his all-in approach.

On Saturday, he landed a backstab while running over the wall of center field at Fenway Park, showing off his speed, range and fearlessness in chasing down fly balls.

And on Friday, Springer had the day off to get back to “baseball activity” after the All-Star break. The rest was planned and will continue so the Jays can see the Saturday and Sunday version of Springer the rest of the way.

“It’s kind of the downside of playing baseball — you play a sport every day,” Springer said. “I get it. He doesn’t have the physicality of football or other sports and that’s the perception we have.

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“But at the end of the day, you’re still playing a game and you’re expected to perform at peak performance every day. And when you have a little something, it can escalate into a thing that can escalate into another. So you just have to manage.”

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RETURN TO BERRIOS

If you’re looking for emerging difference makers on the Jays’ roster, could you start with Jose Berrios, who starts Tuesday against the exhausted St. Louis Cardinals?

Berrios, who has had an uneven season from his opening day start, has shown some consistency in his form recently and after the star break to refresh himself, he is looking forward to the new restart.

“I think we saw him a bit before the break – he’s finally in a groove,” Walker said. “I think he feels really good about his business.

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“I think you see consistent speed now, the horizontal sink on the fastball has been really good. I can tell by watching him when he spins the ball well, that’s usually when everything falls into place.

In the first of two against the Cards, Berrios will make his 20th start of the season. In his last three outings, the right-hander has gone at least six innings in each and held his opponents to six earned runs combined.

He is clearly throwing with more confidence than at the start of the season.

“That’s the key,” Walker acknowledged. “He fought a little early and never looked like he could get his normal rhythm back. But I think he’s in a good position right now.

AROUND THE BASES

Lots of talk about the Cardinals not having unvaccinated stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in the roster. Arenado didn’t exactly tone down the commentary with comments that appeared in the St. Louis Dispatch. “I’m not happy,” Arenado said. “It just stinks. I was actually excited to go to Toronto because Toronto is a great place. I was hoping they would get rid of this ban. … Jays fourth outfielder Raimel Tapia has 35 RBIs this season, but seven of those have come on two Boston at-bats — a base-loaded grand slam and a base-loaded triple.

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Martin E. Berry