If The Season Started Today: The Jays Bullpen

Brad White

What do you think, do we need to look for more help in the bullpen or should be be happy with what we have?

I keep reading that the Jays need more arms for the bullpen so let's take a look at how the Blue Jays bullpen would shake out at the moment.

Right-handers:

Casey Janssen: Closer, 22 saves last year, 3 blown saves. 2.54 ERA in 63.2 innings, 11 walks, 67 strikeouts, 7 home runs. He held opponents to a .195/.241/.323 line, and was a little better vs. LHB (.172/.226/.241) than RHB (.218/.256/.409). In his career, as a reliever, he has a 2.82 ERA. He's always been a favorite of mine. Low 90's fastball and lots of breaking stuff.

Sergio Santos: The once, and likely future closer. Pitched, rather poorly, in just 6 games before shoulder soreness and, later, shoulder surgery put him out for the season. He's supposed to be ready for the start of spring training, but I wouldn't be surprised if he started the season on an injury rehab assignment. Fastball, slider, change and threw very hard, 96-97 mph, before the shoulder troubles, hopefully he'll still be throwing hard. Back in 2011 he held batters to a .181/.282/.314 line with 92 strikeouts in 63 innings, while picking up 30 saves. He was better vs. RHB (.130/.229/.243) than LH (.234/.336/.387)

Steve Delabar: Boy, he looked good after we picked him up from the Mariners. With us he had a 3.38 ERA, 15 walks, 46 6 strikeouts in 29 innings. For the season Delabar held batters to a .193/.284/.403 line. He was better against LHB (.171/.246/.305) than RHB (.211/.314/.481). He gave up a ton of home runs with the Mariners but just 3 in the 29 innings as a Jay. The mid-90's fastball and split finger fastball made for a great combination.

Brad Lincoln: Brad wasn't great in his short time with us, 5.65 ERA, 10 walks, 28 strikeouts with 6 home runs in 28.2 innings. With the Pirates he had a 2.73 ERA in 59 innings before the trade. He gave up multiple runs way too often for my tastes, but then it was a small sample. For the season, he allowed a .241/.293/.434 line. He did better against LHB (.212/.270/.351) than RH (.265/.313/.503). With a mid-90's fastball and a curve he should have better luck in his first full season with us.

Esmil Rogers: We picked him up for Mike Aviles (our compensation for Farrell) from the Indians. With Cleveland he had a 3.06 ERA last year, 12 walks, 54 strikeouts in 53 innings with 5 home runs. For the season, Esmil held batters to a .269/.341/.408 line, and did better against LHB (.248/.347/.329) than RHB (.288/.335/.481). Another power arm, mid-90's fastball and curve.

Jeremy Jeffress: Jeremy was picked up from the Royals in a cash deal. Another power arm, he can hit 100 mph but then control has been the problem. He's only had 38 innings of work, in parts of 3 seasons. He's had 34 strikeouts but 30 walks. He told us he throws a fastball, hard cutter, occasional silder, curve ball and change. He's out of options so, if he has a decent spring, he's likely to make the team.

Left-handers:

Darren Oliver: If he doesn't retire, he'll be the top lefty in the pen. I don't see how he can retire after all the excitement of the off-season. Wouldn't you want to be part of the team? Oliver had a 2.06 ERA in 56.2 innings last season. He allowed 15 walks, had 52 strikeouts and gave up 3 home runs. He held batters to a .214/.282/.294 line. He actually was better vs. RHB (.196/.252/.262) than LHB (.234/.314/.330), which likely has more to do with sample size than anything else, but he doesn't have to be just a LOOGY. He's not a power arm, fastball gets to 90 MPH but he mostly changes speeds and throws curves, cutters and changeups.

Aaron Loup: Aaron came out of no where to be a very effective lefty in the pen. He had a 2.64 ERA, with just 2 walks and 21 strikeouts in 30.2 innings with no home runs allowed. He held batters to a .232/.243/.304 line and was much better against LHB (.207/.220/.241) than RHB (.259/.268/.370). He throws a fastball that sits about 90 MPH, a slider and a changeup.

Brett Cecil: Brett, well, if Oliver retires, Brett could get the job as a second lefty. He threw 11 innings of relief for us last year, with a 5.73 ERA, roughly the same ERA he had as a starter. As a reliever he gave up a .326/.404/.370 line, as a starter it was a .286/.349/.526 line. He was pretty good against LHB (.214/.281/.321) but awful against RHP (.319/.384/.549), so he might be ok as a LOOGY. In his career he has allowed a .232/.288/.369 line against lefty batters.

J.A. Happ: Happ, if nothing else happens this off-season, would likely be the 5th starter, but I'd imagine there will be some moves to come. Happ would be pretty useful in Carlo Villanueva's swing man role. As much as I'd like to hope, we won't get through the season with just 5 starters. Happ got into 10 games, after coming over to the Jays in the trade with the Astros, making 6 starts. He had a 4.69 ERA with 17 walks, 46 strikeouts and 2 home runs in 40.1 innings. For the season he allowed batters a .264/.332/.455 line. He was better against LHB (.259/.301/.429) than RHB (.267/.342/.465).

So 10 guys with a good chance of making the team. Hopefully we won't be going with a 10 man bullpen, but things have a way of working out in spring training.

For depth guys, on the 40-man roster, we have Sam Dyson, Chad Jenkins, Evan Crawford and, you never know, perhaps Dustin McGowan will be able to pitch. And, at by the middle of the season, Luis Perez might be ready to come back. Add in that there will be pitchers signed to minor league contracts with invites to spring training and we should have lots of available arms. Justin Germano has one to those contracts, but there will be more before spring training starts.

I'm sure Alex will continue to tinker with the pen but I think we would be pretty happy with the group we have now.

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