Whether via poor performance or health issues, inadequacies have a tendency to be front and center when the only thing consistent about a team is the disappointment in the win-loss column. When you have the season that the Toronto Blue Jays have endured in 2012, countless holes present themselves, all screaming to be addressed.
But every once in a while, a solution arises amid the wreckage and a silver lining presents itself.
Casey Janssen entered stage right, came to the rescue and saved a beleaguered bullpen.
The Jays had acquired Sergio Santos from the White Sox to handle the role, but Santos was lost to a shoulder injury on April 21st and would eventually be shut down for the season after undergoing surgery on his pitching shoulder in July.
Toronto would then turned the role over to a free agent addition in Francisco Cordero, who was originally brought in to set-up for Santos. Cordero would ultimately be ineffective, garnering just 2 saves despite completing 17 games for the Jays. He would be shipped off to Houston as part of the package that netted the Blue Jays Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ, easily the best contribution that Cordero made in Toronto.
So in stepped Janssen. After two consecutive solid seasons in a set-up role, the Jays gave him the opportunity to close and the results have been encouraging. Janssen has converted 20 of 23 save opportunities, despite the lack of work over the last several weeks. His 2.61 ERA is solid and right in line with his FIP of 2.93, showing that as a closer, Janssen is taking the reins. Thanks to issuing just 9 walks on the season, Janssen also sports a sparkling 6.89 SO/BB ratio on the season.
Now one could argue that he was worth more in set-up during the 2011 season, as his WAR was 1.9 compared to the 1.6 this season as a closer. However, the value placed on piece of mind, knowing that you have a solid anchor in the bullpen is priceless.
Needless to say, Janssen has staked his claim to the closer role in 2012, effectively taking one piece of the puzzle off of the board for the Jays front office. At the very least, he’s earned the opportunity to start the season knowing that the role is his to lose.
Whether he holds on to it is his responsibility, but that is just another responsibility he is comfortable in taking on.