What you may not have known is that he started his career as a starting pitcher.
But he sucked at it and was moved to the bullpen, became a setup man and eventually became the Yankees closer.
And the rest is history.
Failed starters tend to make dynamite relievers because if you had enough talent to get a chance to start in the big leagues you can pitch an inning or 3 of scoreless relief like its nothing.
So in honor of Rivera retiring at the end of this season and tonight being the last time we see him at Rogers Centre let’s take a look at all the failed starters coming out of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen.
Let’s start with the ace of the Jays bullpen Casey Janssen.
In 2006 Janssen made 17 starts for the Jays and finished the season with a 5.07 ERA. The Jays made Janssen a reliever the very next season and he had a sparkling 2.37 ERA.
He missed all of 2008 with an injury and made 5 starts for the Jays in 2009 and spent the rest of his season in the bullpen. He’s now been the Jays most consistent and reliable reliever since 2011.
Darren Oliver was a reliever for the first 2 seasons of his career in 1993 and 1994. But from 95 to 2004 he was a starting pitcher. And in that time the lowest ERA he had in a season was 4.20! But ever since then Oliver’s been a reliever and for the most part his numbers have gotten better year after year.
Brett Cecil was a good starting pitcher for the Jays as recently as 2010. He couldn’t find that form again though in 2011 or 2012 so the Jays eventually moved him to the pen in late 2012.
The transition has worked big time as Cecil has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season and even made the All Star Team. He’s been so good Jays fans have been shouting to give him another chance in the rotation.
Brad Lincoln has made 22 career starts since his big league debut in 2010. And while it’s probably too early to call him a failed starter turned good reliever already because Jays fan still sweat when he comes into a game, he has shown flashes of a guy who should be a good reliever.
Dustin McGowan didn’t so much fail as a starter as much as he couldn’t stay healthy enough in the role. He’s made it known he wants a chance to start next season but I’m sure the Jays have no problem with “settling” for him throwing 98 out of the bullpen.
And hey remember where Esmil Rogers was before the Jays got desperate for rotation help this season, the bullpen. That’s because in his 21 career starts before this season he wasn’t very good which is why he spent all of 2012 in the bullpen. And it’s also why he was supposed to spend this season in the bullpen. If he doesn’t work out as a starter I don’t think anyone would doubt his ability to be a good reliever, especially with how good he’s looked as a starter at times this season.
While I’m not ready to give up on Ricky Romero as a starter, if the Jays move him to the bullpen I definitely wouldn’t doubt his ability to get just 3 outs in just 1 inning or go one time through a lineup.
Failed starters make some of the best relievers. And the Jays have a whole gang of them coming out of their bullpen.