Casey Janssen: Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Year in Review


Casey Janssen has long been a Toronto Blue Jays fan favourite, as he has spent the entirety of his 10-year career with the organization.  Originally selected out of UCLA in the 4th Round in 2004, he made his debut in 2006 as a Starting Pitcher.  Shortly after, Casey Janssen would make a move to the bullpen, where he has stayed ever since.

In 2013, enjoying his second season in the closer role, he emerged as one of the American League’s elite shut-down relievers.  The right-hander capitalized on 34-of-36 saves, with an ERA of 2.56.  2014 was a step backwards for the Blue Jays’ closer, however, and given his impending Free Agent status, it may have been his last in Toronto.

The Good

When you look at Janssen’s 2014 season individually, it wasn’t a let down in all areas.  Janssen was still able to post a 3.94 ERA to go along with a 1.182 WHIP.  Neither of those numbers suggest dominance, but his season was far from poor.

Casey Janssen was still able to convert 25 save opportunities for the Blue Jays in limited opportunities, and did not lose his elite control.  Through 45.2 innings pitched, he allowed just 7 walks, and consistently got his fastball over for first pitch strikes.


The Bad

It seemed as if Casey Janssen never found his groove in 2014.  After missing the first month of the season with a back injury, Janssen also battled an illness after the All Star break and took some time to rebuild his strength and velocity.

Although his control was still on point, he saw huge spikes in his FIP and hits, while his strikeout numbers headed south.  Casey Janssen was just not able to miss bats like he had in years past, and his inability to record strikeouts hindered him at points throughout the season.

Casey Janssen never was, and never will be, a traditional “power” arm in the closer’s role.  For his pitching style to work, however, he needs to miss bats while still pounding the zone.  His limited velocity in 2014 left some balls that would usually nibble at the corners drift into the heart of the plate instead.

The Future

We already know that the Blue Jays will not extend a qualifying offer to Casey Janssen, so it seems to be very likely that his career in Toronto has come to an end.

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If he had of put up a repeat performance of 2013, Janssen may be looking at dollar signs in a closer’s deal on the open market. Instead, I would not be surprised to see the veteran chase a championship in an 8th-inning role with a contender.  He would be extremely valuable to a top club in that slot, and 2014’s MLB Playoffs have shown just how effective a strong bullpen can be.

Assuming he does not return, he should be remembered fondly in Toronto.  Casey Janssen was a familiar face that performed admirably through many tough seasons for the Blue Jays, but at the price he may be seeking, it may be time for the team to look past the 33-year old reliever.

One of the biggest questions of this offseason will be who replaces Casey Janssen.  In-house options include Aaron Loup or Brett Cecil, while Aaron Sanchez‘s name has even arisen in some circles (although I see that as unlikely).  Alex Anthopoulos, in his use of Janssen, has shown that he does not require a closer who throws the ball 98MPH, so the door really is wide open.  Whether it be an external addition or a familiar face, it will be strange to see a number other than 44 leave the bullpen in the 9th.