When your team pitching staff holds a mark of futility only bested by the lowly Houston Astros, it is sometimes difficult to find any semblance of good news. However, in a season fraught with inefficiencies, the Toronto Blue Jays do have one part of their pitching staff holding their weight.
Casey Janssen has been about as automatic as you can get. The Blue Jays closer has been perfect in save situations, converting on all 11 attempts to date. In 16 appearances, he holds a 2.25 ERA and has struck out 16 batters in his 16 innings of work. His .158 batting average against is nearly 40 points lower than his career low, set last season and he has allowed one walk all season. More importantly, Janssen has surrendered just 1 and 3 hits in a save situation, meaning that when he enters the game, he shuts the door behind him.
While Janssen’s accomplishments may seem understated, the guys pitching in front of him get even less credit.
Steve Delabar seems to be the man with the rubber arm, taking the ball in any and every situation needed by the team. In 23 appearances, Delabar has surrendered 8 runs (7 earned) for an ERA of 2.33 and sports a healthy 10.0 K/9 ratio. His 8 multi-inning appearances have been huge to Toronto. Delabar’s 5.3 BB/9 is a bit concerning, but he’s limited the damage thus far by holding batters to a .200 batting average against.
Lefty Brett Cecil has completely reinvented himself in 2013, making a seamless transition to the bullpen after washing out as a starter. He leads the Blue Jays with 24 appearances and has made the most of the extra innings, sporting a respectable 1.98 ERA, a 10.5 K/9 ratio, and a 2.6 BB/9 ratio. Opposing hitters have struggled against Cecil, touching him for a paltry .179 average and 8 walks through 27.1 innings. Skimming down just a bit further, you see that he’s been effective against batters on both sides of the plate, but has really killed lefties in 2013, holding them to a .132 BAA, a .372 OPS in 53 at-bats, and a ridiculous 18/1 K/BB ratio.
Finally, we have fellow lefty Aaron Loup. The lefty who was perhaps the Blue Jays rookie of the year in 2012, has made sure we knew that last season was not a fluke, improving across the board while being trusted with more responsibility. He enters play on Friday night with a solid 2.54 ERA, a 6.3 K/9 ratio, a 1.6 BB/9 ratio, and a 1.08 WHIP over 28.2 innings pitched. He leads the team with 117 batters faced and 40 groundball outs.
While this foursome may not turn around the Blue Jays season on their own, they undoubtedly help put our minds at ease over a role that must continue to perform well regardless of the rest of the team’s fortunes.