Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Steve Delabar (50) delivers a pitch. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Steve Delabar
Position(s): Relief Pitcher
*162 Game Avg. is his career average based on a full 162-game season.
Steve Delabar was very good for the Toronto Blue Jays in the second half of 2012 after he was swapped for Eric Thames at the non-waiver trade deadline. Delabar’s path to the majors was an interesting one to say the least. He was drafted in the 29th round by the San Diego Padres put never made it to the show and was released by the club in 2008. CBS Sports’ Eye On Baseball picks up his story from there. Delabar suffered a compound fracture in his throwing elbow playing independent ball in 2009 and it looked like his baseball career was over. He was a substitute teacher in 2010 but after working with the weighted ball program, which the Blue Jays entire organization has since implemented, he was able to regain his velocity and was signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2011. He started at the High-A level but tore through each level of the minors and made his big-league debut September 11, 2011. He was very good pitching out of the bullpen for the Mariners allowing only 5.6 H/9 and was even more electric striking out 14.1 batter per nine (!) for Toronto. Delabar was expected to be the set-up man for Casey Janssen in 2013.
Delabar, 30, was terrific in the first half, which was highlighted by his first career All-Star nod when he was selected by the fans in the “Final Vote”. Opponents batted only .199/.309/.265 against him in the first half but 38 appearances and 42 innings pitched may have led to him wearing down. He suffered a shoulder injury in early August and missed the duration of the month but was able to return to the hill in September. However in the second half batters improved to .308/.361/.569 against him and he posted a 7.02 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 16.2 innings, which was a stark contrast to his first half ERA of 1.77 and FIP of 2.38. It’s tough to judge how much of his regression was due to injury but I would say it’s safe to give Delabar the benefit of the doubt. He did finish the year strong with three consecutive scoreless frames and was his fastball averaged over 94 MPH his last appearance.
Delabar is controllable by the Toronto Blue Jays until 2018, which is the earliest time he can become a free agent. He’s shown to be an elite bullpen arm and the combination of Delabar, lefty Brett Cecil and closer Janssen was one of the few things for Blue Jays fans to cheer about in 2013. It does look like the bullpen could be a bit bunched up next year especially with three very good right-handed relievers in Janssen, Delabar and the possibly resurrected Sergio Santos but Delabar comes at a cheap price and provides valuable depth. It will be interesting if the Blue Jays will try to move one of their relievers this offseason but historically non-starting pitchers don’t fetch much in the trade market. Delabar arguably may have the most value for other clubs since despite his well-documented elbow injury is a controllable, cheap commodity. Janssen’s team option is worth $4 million and Santos is owed $3.75 million in 2014 before he’s due for some very expensive team options (with buyouts) after that. Delabar’s salary this year was only $498,900 and next year I believe will only be about $500,000. Depending on what the Blue Jays decide to do with Janssen and Santos it’s tough to predict what type of year he will have in 2014 but he will most likely be fighting for the set-up role if Casey’s option is picked up and Sergio stays healthy and the Jays decide to keep all three players.