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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Roberto Osuna

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays-Media Day
I don’t know about you, but if I’m playing catch with Robert, this is way too close. I’m backing up.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Osuna is entering his 3rd season with the Blue Jay. He just turned 22 in February. Last year he was the youngest pitcher in the AL (and 4th youngest player), for the second season in a row and it is possible he’ll be the youngest again this year. Before the age of 22, he has 56 saves, which is a record.

He’s only 596 saves behind Mariano Rivera. Let’s see, if he averages 30 a year...he’s still 20 years away. I think I’d enjoy watching him for another 20 years.

Last year he had a slight uptick in strikeout (28.5%, up from 27.7) with a slight drop in walks (4.9%, down from 5.9). He did give up 2 more home runs than 2015, but we’ll forgive.

He throws a lot of pitches for a closer. High 90’s fastball, slider, changeup and he started throwing a cutter last year. All those pitches make us wonder how he would do as a starter. It isn’t going to happen, but it is interesting to think of the alternative universe where we didn’t put him in our pen and continued to develop him as a starter.

I’d imagine, in that alternate universe, he would, likely, be starting this year in Double-A. He might be in camp, trying to impress enough to put his name on the radar as someone that could fill in if there were injuries.

I can understand why Roberto would rather be making a half million dollars playing, pitching out of the pen for the Jays, than making somewhat less than minimum wage and riding on buses. And, of course, he’s been needed to help us make the playoffs these last two years.

But you do have to wonder if he, and the Jays, would have been better off for 2017 and beyond if they had taken the other path.

Osuna pitched 3 spring innings for the Jays, 2 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. You likely know he had a tough first appearance in the WBC for Mexico (and that blown save helped put them out of it). I’m going to write off that one appearance as nerves. I’m expecting a similar season from Roberto as his last two. Reliever numbers are pretty volatile, it’s limited innings, so a couple of bad outings can mess with a reliever’s numbers.

If it were up to me, I’d use Roberto in 2 or even 3 inning stints, and not limit him to save situations only. I think, with the number of different pitches he throws, he could handle longer outings. I know it isn’t going to happen, but that would be what I’d like. It is the old man in me that remembers closers pitching more than one inning. Part of why they don’t do that anymore is that most closers only have the one good pitch. Roberto has more than one.