Feb 24, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Sergio Santos (21) throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the top of the third inning of a spring training game at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsAs we edge closer and closer to opening day, which as of this writing stands just 29 days away for the Toronto Blue Jays, there are very few unanswered questions in regards to the opening day roster for Toronto. An offseason of blockbuster moves tends to take away some of that mystery, even if there are guys in camp working hard to change some minds.
Still, as a fan, there is one thing that bothers me at this stage, even if we have plenty of time before the real games begin. The health of Casey Janssen, the man tabbed by John Gibbons as the closer when the season starts, has yet to throw off of a mound this spring. Janssen is working his way back from what was a labeled as a mild shoulder surgery in November, yet Pete Walker and the coaching staff are nursing him along. In fact, the team’s current medical report still lists Janssen as “Possibly Opening Day”.
Is it time to consider alternatives to Janssen in that role?
Now in fairness, Janssen has earned the role, after coming through strong last season with a campaign that saw him post a 1-1 record, 2.54 ERA, 22 saves, and a 9.5 K/9 ratio. That’s not too shabby for a guy that jumped into the closer’s role until May. Still, a shoulder injury is nothing to scoff at, especially one that is lingering into Spring Training and preventing Janssen from going full bore just four weeks from Opening Day.
Meanwhile Sergio Santos, the man who was acquired to be the closer last season before an injury ended his season after just six appearances, has been throwing the ball very well this spring and has been stumping to get his job back. The 29-year-old converted shortstop is only one year removed from a season where he went 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA, 30 saves, and a 13.1 K/9 ratio while with the Chicago White Sox. Santos did get roughed up for 5 runs in the 5 innings he threw in 2012, but how much of that can be attributed to his arm issues coming out of the spring?
Does Casey Janssen have enough time to get himself up to speed to start the season? Should the Blue Jays risk his long term health? Does Sergio Santos represent a safer alternative at the juncture of the spring?
Alright Blue Jays fans, who do you think should be the closer when camp breaks?