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The season that was: Roberto Osuna

A look at Roberto Osuna's 2015 season.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

I got kind of sidetracked from doing these because of a busy December, but there are still a few guys I'd like to talk about.

Coming into the 2015 season, Alex Anthopoulos (I had to check the spelling, gone for a couple of months and I forget the guy) was talking up Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. From where I sat I thought it was a long shot that either would make the team. Osuna had finished the 2014 season in Duneidn, making 7 pretty lousy starts. He had just turned 20 in February. I thought he was a pretty good prospect, but a long way off.

He (as well as Castro) had a pretty good spring training and Alex hadn't done much to improve a bullpen that he had blamed for the team's less than great showing in 2014, so they both came north with the team. Castro quickly became the closer, then, even more quickly, pitched his way off the team (not all that surprising for a 20 year old who hadn't pitched above A ball), but Osuna pitched very well, and, by late June,  took the closer job for himself and kept it for the rest of the season.

He seemed to have that ability to forget about bad appearances quickly, something that closers tell us is important if for a player in that role.

2015   TOR 1 6 2.58 68 39 20 69.2 48 20  7 16 75  5  153 3.02 0.919

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He had 3 blown saves.

Baseball Reference gives him a 1.7 WAR and FanGraphs has him at 1.3 giving him a value of $10.8 million to the Jays.

In the playoffs, Roberto pitched 5.2 perfect innings, with 6 strikeouts (1 save) in the ALDS. He pitched in 3 games in the ALCS, 1 that went well and 2 that didn't go so well. He took a loss, and allowed 2 earned in 2.2 innings.

Osuna had a 3.02 FIP and 3.45 xFIP both above his 2.58 ERA.

He had a .238 BABIP.

Roberto had a 27.7% strikeout rate and a 5.9% walk rate. He gave up 19.7% line drives, 34.3% ground balls and 46.1% fly balls. 8.5% of his fly balls left the park.

He was better vs. RHB (.174/.224/.313) than LHB (.206/.255/.382) but not in the huge Aaron Sanchez, oh man don't let him face lefties way.

He was better on the road (2.30 ERA, batters hit.156/.231/.229) than at home (2.82  ERA,, batters hit ..218/.248/.444). He gave up 6 of his 7 home runs at home. I guess the Man in White didn't realize he was on our team.

With RISP he held batters to a .211/.275/.310 batting line, not a bad thing for a closer.

Roberto by month:

  • April: 1.38 ERA in 13 innings with 15 strikeouts. Batters hit .200/.260/.289.
  • May: 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings with 10 strikeouts. Batters hit .156/.204/.244.
  • June: 2.70 ERA in 10 innings with 17 strikeouts. Batters hit .167/.250/.278.
  • July: 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings with 10 strikeouts. Batters hit .231/.250/.385.
  • August: 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings with 14 strikeouts. Batters hit .154/.175/.282.
  • Sept/Oct: 6.00 ERA in 12 innings with 9 strikeouts. Batters hit .234/.294/.596.
Roberto had a bit of a finger issue at the end of the season, which might explain his troubles at the end of the season. He gave up 4 of his 7 home runs in September. He also had pitched 69.2 innings after only throwing 23 in the minors in 2014..

We'll never know if it would have been better for Osuna's development to have spent the season as a starter in the minors, but it was much better for the team that he be our closer this year. Who knows where we would have finished with out him.

With a guy that throws 4 (maybe 5) pitches, it does seem like a waste to use him out of the pen, but he seems happy there, and it would take, I'd think, 3 seasons to get him up to making 32 starts, and anything close to 200 innings. Maybe more than 3. (I do like that he is a starter for me in OOTP baseball).

It is too bad that we can't see into a parallel universe where Osuna was left in the minors to continue to develop as a starter. It would be interesting to compare. I can't complain how things turned out, we got to watch playoff baseball for the first time in a number of years. Alex maybe could have spent money, during the offseason, on a proven closer or a maybe a couple of relievers, but then, if he had, I wonder if he would have had money let to make the moves he made at the trade deadline.

The best part about baseball, to me, is getting to watch young players come into the league and watch how their careers' play out. I'm hoping we enjoy watching Osuna for years to come.