The looming 2023 trade deadline already figured to throw fantasy baseball rosters into chaos, and as if that weren’t enough, we now can add an injury to one of the league’s best closers on top of it. The Toronto Blue Jays placed Jordan Romano on the injured list on Saturday afternoon with back inflammation that’s been bothering him since his appearance in the All-Star Game.
#BlueJays announce that closer Jordan Romano has been placed on the 15-day IL with lower back inflammation. Nate Pearson is recalled and active today— Kaitlyn McGrath (@kaitlyncmcgrath) July 29, 2023
Romano has been among the very best closers in fantasy this year, with an AL-leading 28 saves to go along with a 2.79 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 42 innings. The team has yet to offer a timetable for his return to the ninth inning, but given how fickle lower back injuries can be — and how important a healthy Romano is to any postseason push — we have to assume that Toronto will keep him out until he’s fully healthy.
Which certainly puts fantasy owners who drafted Romano in a bind — and presents an opportunity for everyone else on the waiver wire. New sources of saves are awfully hard to come by this time of year, so here’s everything you need to know.
Fantasy impact of Jordan Romano’s injury
The primary question is naturally: With Swanson out, who figures to step into the ninth inning for a Blue Jays team that will continue to generate plenty of save opportunities? Righty Erik Swanson will likely get the first crack; he’s been arguably the best of the team’s other high-leverage options, with a 3.50 ERA and a 10.2 K/9, and he converted a save chance last weekend when Romano was first forced to miss time due to his balky back.
Swanson isn’t the sturdiest option, though; he did just cough up four runs in a disastrous outing against the Dodgers earlier this week, after all. If Swanson falters at all, one of Tim Mayza (1.25 ERA, 9.3 K/9) or Yimi Garcia (4.40, 10.5) figures to get a chance at running with the role. Either way, manager John Schneider has shown a willingness to mix and match a bit more without an elite option like Romano to turn to — all three are worthy speculative adds in 12-team leagues and deeper, though Swanson and Mayza are the most likely options.
Beyond that, the timing of Romano’s injury also increases the likelihood that the Jays — already connected to several potentially available relief arms as the trade deadline looms — make a move to add to their bullpen. If you’re a Jordan Hicks owner, for example, it’s very possible that the righty could be headed north of the border at some point over the next few days, which would nerf his long-term value as he’ll slide into an eighth-inning role once Romano returns.