Big League Chew: Can Arik Sikula Close?


I started wondering about the Blue Jays next closer and whether it could come from within the organization. Deep within.

SD: The Blue jays are losing Casey Janssen. We know that. It has been debated who should or could be an internal option to take his spot. Guys like Brett Cecil or Aaron Loup could be considered. Or, Alex Anthopoulos could go outside the organization and get a free agent to shut the door. That route will cost money. I’d prefer he use that dough to bring back Melky and an infielder. Oooh, and a top tier starter. So, in order to help make that happen. Alex Anthopoulos could look further within. What about Arik Sikula?

He picked up 31 saves this season. He’s doing very well in the Arizona Fall League. His ERA sits at 0.00! Why not give him a look this spring? I know. I know. He’s only performed against hitters in AA and lower. Yes, that is true. But, he’s done it quite well. If this past season has shown us anything, it is that young guys are going to be considered for promotion much quicker than in the past. Sikula could be as well.

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RM: Not sure that Arik would be ready to assume a full-time closer role at the start of 2015 given his lack of experience, which you have already referred to. Unfortunately for Arik, while in New Hampshire he was put in a setup role behind Gregory Infante. I’m not sure if Infante will be back with the organization, but if he is, then we can expect him to compete with John Stilson to be Buffalo’s closer. That almost certainly ensures that Arik Sikula will be given the Fisher Cats closer role.

SD: I’m not so sure the closer role in the big leagues is all everyone makes it out to be. Yes, there is pressure. Big time. But, that is not unique to the closer’s role. Do we really think Mariano Rivera would have stunk it up in the 7th or 8th innings? Sikula will be 26 in December. That’s getting a bit old for AA. They’ve promoted him and then sent him back to Dunedin. But, have they really given him a decent look? He’s been good since they drafted him. He helped Vancouver win their championship in 2012. If they are really going to give him a shot, they can’t be looking to send him to AA. They have to give him a real shot at closer. At the very least, they should be letting him fight for AAA. Wouldn’t it be great if the next closer came in like a wrecking ball from out of nowhere? Why not him?

RM: If he continues to be lights out in AFL then you’re right they should give him serious consideration. The question remains…is his stuff good enough to get big league batters out? He has proven that he has the competitiveness ‎necessary to successfully get minor leaguers out on a consistent basis. So maybe Spring Training will make or break his chances of seeing the bigs in 2015. 

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  • SD: He has an uphill battle with the likes of Cecil, Loup, even Steve Delabar, ahead of him. But, they can’t ignore a 0.00 ERA. It would certainly be cheaper to give him a shot than to go outside of the organization. Even if they go with a more experienced bullpen arm, he may get the chance to crack one of the vacant spots that that creates. Do you think there are many younger arms in the system ahead of him on the radar?

    RM: Guys that are drafted as relievers or closer and stick in that role all throughout the minors and into their major league career are few and far between. This makes it even more unlikely that Arik could be given a legitimate shot. You mentioned a couple more experienced guys that Jays fans have knowledge about, but what about Ryan Tepera (I already wrote about him) or a power arm like John Stilson (wrote about him too). Both guys spent the entire 2014 season in Triple-A Buffalo and were very successful. Tepera finished over 20 games for the Herd and Stilson was very good before being shut down in June with shoulder issues.

    Final Word:

    SD: I guess all of this points out the problem with reading so much into a recent string of luck or good performance. Although, the AFL IS a stage to show progress toward the majors. Look, Sikula has been very good. He is probably in line for a promotion. But, you’re right, it won’t be all the way up to the big leagues. Although, I’d like to see him get some recognition, he’s at the mercy of the system. I just hope he gets his recognition.

    RM: Sikula has a chance of making the Blue Jays out of Spring, but not as the closer. I would put my money on Alex picking up a closer on the cheap. The bullpen will look a lot different in 2015 than the one we saw in 2014. I hope that Sikula is given an opportunity to become an integral piece.