While the Toronto Blue Jays enter September fighting an uphill battle in the race for a wild-card spot, they will be receiving some reinforcements for that fight.
It would be unfair for the team to pin its hopes on the players who will become the 27th and 28th men on the roster, but the Blue Jays joining the squad still have a chance to make a meaningful contribution.
Those players will be reliever Chad Green and first baseman/outfielder Spencer Horwitz — and each comes with both uncertainty and upside.
Green was one of the very best relievers in the majors leagues in the not-so-distant past.
Between 2017 and 2021 his 7.0 fWAR ranked sixth among all bullpen arms as he racked up strikeouts (11.67 K/9), limited walks (2.00 BB/9) and kept runs off the board (2.86 ERA).
He was a high-leverage weapon capable of pitching multiple innings at the time — and if he can still be that player he'll instantly become a crucial contributor for the Blue Jays down the stretch. That's not a fair expectation for a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, though.
Green has cruised at the Triple-A level during his rehab assignment allowing two earned runs and striking out 11 in nine innings. However, his average fastball velocity of 94.4 mph is more in line with what he showed before he went down in 2022 (94.6 mph) than what it was at his peak (96.4 mph).
Early in 2022 he showed the ability to compete with slightly lower velo as he managed a 3.00 ERA and 2.85 FIP, but his strikeout rate went from elite to simply above-average.
It seems fair to predict that Green can provide some solid innings for Toronto, but he's unlikely to bump the pitchers atop the team's bullpen pecking order out of their spots. FanGraphs' projection systems predict his ERA will land between 3.74 and 3.91.
Horwitz didn't make an impact in his 10 plate-appearance cameo with the Blue Jays earlier in the year, but he's been raking at Triple-A with a .337/.450/.494 line — good for a 143 wRC+. He possesses an unusual offensive profile as first baseman with middling power who is more of an on-base threat than a slugger.
Due to the presence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Brandon Belt, regular at-bats won't be easy for the 25-year-old to come by. His ability to play left field could come in handy, but the Blue Jays have plenty of options there, too.
Because Horwitz is a left-handed hitter who's posted significant splits at Triple-A this season, the most obvious way for Toronto to use him is as a pinch hitter.
In the absence of Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman, the Blue Jays roster is packed with light-hitting right-handed hitting infielders like Ernie Clement, Santiago Espinal and Mason McCoy. Horwitz is an excellent candidate to replace any of that trio late in games against righty relievers.
There would even be a case to hit him for Whit Merrifield (who has a 100 wRC+ vs. RHP) or one of the catchers against the right pitcher.
Horwitz could also see his role expand if the back spasms that have been dogging Belt in recent days become a significant issue down the stretch. In that case, the rookie could see as many at-bats as his production justified.
The fate of the Blue Jays is unlikely to be decided by the two guys who have now found their way to the end of the team's roster, but Toronto has added some real talent for September.
It will be on the team's established stars to drive the bus, but it wouldn't be shocking to see Green lock down a critical inning or Horwitz show why he's been such a success at Triple-A in a big spot.