Blue Jays Bullpen: Internal Options at Closer


So, here we sit, all warm and fuzzy, basking in the afterglow of the Russell Martin signing.  We’ve had a day or two to process the deal and take comfort in the fact that it could mean big things are on the way for your Toronto Blue Jays. Well, enough of all that! There is still plenty to do with this club and there’s only a couple of months before pitchers and catchers report.

One of the next things on AA’s to-do list is rebuilding a bullpen that was two steps down from crummy in 2014. Where to start though? Where else but closer. While many are advocating, especially in light of Rogers’ new-found sense of generosity, that the Jays seek to go outside the organization to fill that need, I am not so sure. The free-agent closer has not been a friend to the Blue Jays and I think they may be wary of devoting too much money and time to another potential B.J. Ryan.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

To that end there are a number of options the Jays have internally who, given the opportunity, could excel in the back-end of the bullpen. As it just so happens, I have a list of them below:

Brett Cecil

Since moving to the bullpen full time in 2013 Brett has been great. Out of the bullpen Cecil has demonstrated an ability to  consistently strike guys out. Over the past two years he has racked up 146 strikeouts in 114IP, which works out to a K/9 rate of 11.5. The ability to miss bats is always a big seller when it comes to choosing a closer and Brett can get the K when he needs to. On the downside his WHIP (1.22) is a bit higher than you’d like from a closer on a contending team. That number was elevated a bit by last season where he has an abnormally high BAbip (.344). If you put a good defence behind him, I think he’d do very well closing out games for the Jays. Out of all of the guys mentioned here I think he has the best shot to be closer in 2015.

Kyle Drabek

I’ll admit, this one is a bit out there. Drabek has been the odd man out on the Jays since losing his season to Tommy John surgery in 2012. Since then his appearances in the majors have been few and far between. The fact remains that Drabek has electric stuff and could be something else if he could ever figure out how to throw the ball over the plate. There are some encouraging signs, though, in 2013 while rehabing in the minors Drabek boasted 3.14 ERA in 14 games (11 starts). The stat of note here is that he only walked 6 in 43IP. I know that results in the minors don’t directly translate into MLB success, but it show that the potential is there. In all likelihood he’ll spend this year in the minors.

Aaron Sanchez

Having Sanchez close in 2015 is a movement that is gaining popularity among the Jays’ fan-base. It’s one I don’t necessarily subscribe to, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it here. As most of us know Sanchez had an outstanding rookie year. He had a sparkling 1.09 ERA and a ERA+ which was 361(!). His rate numbers were equally impressive sporting a K rate of 7.4/9 and a BB rate of only 2.5/9. The walk rate is notable, as control was thought to be an issue of his in the minors. I don’t think the powers that be plan to use him in the bullpen over a full year, but they may end up having to, if they can’t get what they need elsewhere.

In the end I think the Jays will likely turn to a more experienced pitcher to take over closing duties, but if things don’t go as planned they may be forced to turn to one of the three players mentioned above. What do you think? Sound off below (just be gentle, it’s my first time).