Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Neil Wagner (45) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, Toronto Blue Jays right-handed reliever Neil Wagner has been optioned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
The move was expected because Wagner, unlike so many other Blue Jays’ relievers, actually has options remaining. It didn’t make sense to break camp with him while losing another arm in the process. Wagner could very well be needed for depth later and much like Brad Lincoln last season, where he becomes a victim of his own options and will likely be jumping between Toronto and Buffalo all season, even when he’s throwing well.
Wagner, 30, pitched to a 3.79 ERA (109 ERA+) with a 1.368 WHIP and tidy 2.54 SO/BB rate last season in 36 relief appearances for Toronto. He throws hard and according to Brooks Baseball his average fastball velocity was nearly 96 MPH in 2013. His slider, however, is still a work in progress.
He’s also a student of the game and in an interview with FanGraphs talked about how he uses data to his advantage over hitters.
This spring in 5.2 innings Wagner wasn’t great, allowing five earned runs (including two homers) with a 1.59 WHIP. He did have eight strikeouts but opposing batters were hitting .320 against him and he had twice as many outs in the air as on the ground.