A cringe can be felt all across Canada whenever John Gibbons walks out to the mound and takes the ball from his starter and raises his arm to the bullpen to call in relief. That’s because Toronto’s bullpen has been anything but a relief thus far in 2014.
In 13 save opportunities, including one on Saturday evening against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Blue Jays pitchers have blown 6 saves. That’s right, Blue Jays relievers have nearly a 50/50 chance of coughing up the lead. Not exactly the odds you want when your team is in a position to win.
The chief culprit thus far has been interim closer Sergio Santos, who is 5 of 8 in save opportunities and sports an obscene 10.61 ERA, a 2.25 WHIP, and has surrendered 3 home runs in 9.1 innings of work. That performance resulted in the Blue Jays lifting Santos from that role on Saturday and replacing him with a committee approach, a committee that includes Aaron Loup, Brett Cecil, and Steve Delabar.
Loup, is unfortunately the second biggest offender.
One of those offenses came on Saturday night, when Loup entered the game in the seventh with a man on second and 0 outs. Loup proceeded to surrender four hits and a walk, allowing the inherited runner to score and three of his own. That was the second blown attempt by Loup, who melted down against the Indians on April 20th with a 3 walk and 3 earned run performance in that outing. Those two poor outings account for six of the eight earned runs he has surrendered in 2014.
The other blown save is owned by Cecil who allowed four earned runs in an outing against Baltimore on April 24th, an outing in which he failed to collect a single out.
However, while the current standing of the Blue Jays bullpen, which was to be a strength in 2014, seems dire, there may be some help on the way.
According to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, the Blue Jays are sending injured closer Casey Janssen back out on the rehab trail early next week. Manager John Gibbons indicated that Janssen will likely make four or five appearances with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, with at least two of those outings having to come on back-to-back days.
“He has to go back-to-back days so when he gets here, he’s done that,” said Gibbons. “He’s been off a long time.” (H/T Gregor Chisholm)
Casey Janssen, who was 56 of 61 in save opportunities over the course of the last two seasons, won’t likely rescue the Blue Jays bullpen alone. However, what he does do is help align the arms in the slots they will normally fall in. He adds stability where there currently is none, but more importantly he adds piece of mind.
I know I personally will sleep easier with Casey in the closer role. And I personally would like those five (likely six) wins back.