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Season that was: Roberto Osuna

A look at Roberto’s 2016 season.

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Roberto Osuna had a terrific rookie season, in 2015, putting up a 2.58 ERA and 20 saves. He struck out 75 batters in 69.2 innings. He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting.

When the offseason came, we were wondering if the Jay would think about transitioning him into a starters role, but it soon became apparent that they planed on keeping him in the pen.

Then there was the trade for Drew Storen. I thought that Storen would go into the closer spot on and Osuna would be in a setup role. I kind of hoped that Roberto would be used in multiple inning. I had hopes that he’d pitch 80-100 inning and ready if the team decided he should be a starter in 2017.

I’m happy the team didn’t make Storen the closer.

2016    21 4 3 2.68 72 61 36 74.0 55 22  9 14   4 82   3  4  161 3.20 10.0 5.86
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A pretty terrific season.

He had 6 blown saves, 3 of them coming in the last week of the season. In two of those blown saves he would pick up the win.

Baseball Reference has him at a 2.0 WAR. FanGraphs 1.8, giving him a value of $14.5 million.

In the playoffs Roberto pitched in 7 games, 9 inning, had 1 win, 1 save, 4 hits, 0 earned runs, 0 walks and 10 strikeouts.

He had a 3.20 FIP and a 3.60 xFIP.

Batters have a BABIP of .256, up from .238 last year.

Compared to last year, Roberto’s strikeout rate was higher (28.5%, up from 27.7) and walk rate was lower (4.9%, down from 5.9).

He gave up about the same number of line drives (19.8%, last year 19.7), same amount of ground balls (33.2%, last year 34.3), same fly ball rate (47.1%, last year 46.1). A few more of his fly balls left the part (10.2%, up from 8.5).

Roberto was better against RHB (.176/.215/.265) than LHB (.237/.287/.443). In the same number of plate appearances, Roberto gave up 7 home runs to lefties, 2 to right-handers.

He was better at home (2.16 ERA, batters hit .217/.254/.300) than on the road (3.10, .197/.248/.395). He gave up 2 home runs at home, 7 on the road.

Osuna was slightly better in the first half of the season (2.27, .208/.252/.333), than the season half (3.15, .203/.250/.374).

With RISP batters hit .210/.288/.339 against him.

  • April: 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings, with 11 k. Batters hit .205/.225/.308
  • May: 0.00 ERA in 13.2 inning with 16 k. Batters hit .114/.200/.136
  • June: 5.40 ERA in 11.2 innings with 18 k. Batters hit .304/.340/.587
  • July: 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings with 11 k. Batters hit .103/.167/.128
  • August: 5.06 ERA in 10.2 inning with 15 k. Batters hit .238/.273/.571
  • September: 3.38 ERA in 16 innins, with 11 k. Batters hit .246/.279/.351

We will likely forever debate if it would have been better for Osuna if the team had let him develop as a starter. But it’s been better for the team, these last two years, that he has been in the bullpen. It’s doubtful that the team would have been able to make the playoffs without him as closer, though who knows what they would of done without him in the closer role. Trade for someone? Sign someone?

If left to develop as a starter, we wouldn’t be watching him in Toronto yet. He’s just 21. In 2014 he threw just 34 innings (22 for Dunedin and 12 for Mesa in the AFL). I would think it would take 3 seasons to build up from that to where he could be thought of as a major league starter. So we likely would have seen in Toronto as a starter until 2017 or 2018.

We need to be able to look at a parallel universe where the Jays kept him a starter to see if that would have worked out better.

If I was king of the Jays, I think I’d try to put Roberto in the ‘Andrew Miller’ role. Have him go into a game when needed, not wait until the 9th inning, and have him pitch 2 or 3 innings when needed. It is possible that he wouldn’t go along with the idea, but then I’d try to sell it as the best thing for the Jays. And maybe offer him a contract extension as a thank you for going along with my plan.

Course, it is also possible that Gibby wouldn’t go along with the idea, which would put me in the spot of fighting with and perhaps firing the manager who has taken the Jays to the ALCS twice in a row.

I often say that the fun of being a baseball is watching young players develop and grow. Roberto? He seemed to come into the league a fully formed closer. There wasn’t a lot of development needed.