Sergio Santos. Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
It doesn't look good, two save opportunities and two blown saves (to be fair, he should have had 3 save opportunities, with one save, if Farrell, or someone, had told Luis Perez he was coming out of the the game when the Jays took the lead in the first game of the year). Now I have little doubt that Sergio Santos will do a good job for us as closer, but his start to the season is starting to look like Frank Francisco's start last year.
Last year Frankie missed part of spring training, plus the first couple of weeks of the season, with an injury. When he came back and took over the closer role, things didn't start off all that well for him (though he didn't blow his first 2 opportunities, he only blew 1 of his first 6 chances, before things went south). I thought that maybe the rushed him a bit. Maybe he would have been better off rehabbing for a bit longer.
With Santos. the Jays didn't have him pitch much in spring games, saying he was learning a new pitch, and that they wanted him just to work on that, without having to worry about facing batters. I don't know, maybe he should have pitched a bit more. Maybe there should have let him work on the pitch slower, on the side, while still getting him into games so he could face batters in game situations more. Hindsight and all.
I don't know, the pitch that Asdrubal Cabrera hit out, Saturday, was high and inside and, I thought, a really tough pitch to get a bat on, never mind hit out of the park. But then the pitch that Dustin Pedroia hit was high and inside and 95 MPH. Dustin had to do a lot of things with his hands to get the bat on the ball there. He had to bring his hands up and in and, if you watch the hit, he also leaned back at the same time. How he could do all those things and make hard contact with a 95 MPH pitch, it's pretty tough.
The rest of the inning, Sergio was all over the place, 3 walks, a wild pitch, a passed ball (have I mentioned how much I hate that official scorers have to decide if a ball is a wild pitch or a passed ball. I think scorers should just be reporting what happened, not making judgments. I watched the 'Jays in 30' and I couldn't tell you which one was the wild pitch and which was the passed ball. They should both be marked off in the same box. Let us fans decide who is to blame, we are going to anyway.).
It is going to be interesting watching John Farrell deal with Sergio's troubles. Last year he was pretty impatient with Frankie, and turned the job over to Jon Rauch. We all know how that went. When Francisco started pitching great again, he was in a low leverage role. He went a month and a half, where he only allowed 1 earned run, while only getting 1 save and 2 holds. Farrell was slow to see he had improved and slow to put him back into a higher leverage role.
I'm hoping we don't have the same thing happen this year, with Santos playing the Francisco role and Francisco Cordero playing Rauch's role. Santo is going to be good, hopefully soon and he's, with any luck, going to be the closer for us for several years.
We'll see how much Farrell has learned from last year.