The Blue Jays may have lost a reliever to injury after Monday night’s brawl-filled matchup with the Yankees as Joaquin Benoit left the stadium on crutches during the game. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the veteran right-hander was being examined for a calf injury prior to leaving.
This could be a pretty substantial blow to a Blue Jays team pressing for a Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays currently hold the first Wild Card spot, and the Orioles sit just one game back, while the Tigers and Mariners are just on the periphery, two games back of the Orioles with just six games remaining in the season.
#BlueJays reliever Joaquin Benoit appears to have suffered a significant injury to his left leg, was seen leaving on crutches.— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 27, 2016
Since being acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Drew Storen, Benoit has been one of the best relievers in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Over his 23.2 innings pitched, Benoit has stranded literally every runner he has been responsible for while striking out over a quarter of the batters he faces. Hitters have batted just .202 off of him in a Blue Jays jersey and it doesn’t seem driven by BABIP luck which is above his career average at .271. The 39-year old Benoit appears to be returning to form after starting the season poorly for the Mariners.
Benoit’s injury may have occurred while the bullpens emptied due to a benches-clearing brawl after Luis Severino beaned Justin Smoak with a pitch. That bean ball was in retaliation though, to an earlier hit by pitch of Chase Headley delivered by Jays’ starter J.A. Happ which was also in retaliation for an accidental plunking of Josh Donaldson from Severino in the top of the first.
Some sleuth work from Ian Hunter showed a Blue Jays’ player taking a hard fall while storming out of the bullpen:
Not great quality video, but whoever came running out of the Jays' bullpen fell HARD. pic.twitter.com/47SUgBEavw— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) September 27, 2016
Whether that is Benoit or not is still unclear. However, Benoit did leave the game shortly after these moments and the Jays could be without him for some key games int he 2016 season and beyond.