2015 Blue Jays Breakout Candidate: Preston Guilmet
Much has been made about the need for the Toronto Blue Jays to address the bullpen. And, why not? The bullpen put up an ERA over 4 in 2014 with 197 walks and a WHIP of 1.344. So, the fact that they need help is no secret. There has been much talk of the search for bullpen help. It is still ongoing.
But, perhaps there is someone on the roster who can help. Perhaps this person was an under the radar type of pick up. Perhaps that person came in the seemingly preferred (by Alex Anthopoulos) fashion of the waiver claim. Perhaps that person is Preston Guilmet.
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He was a bit of an early Holliday present to Blue Jays fans. Claimed on Dec. 23/14, Guilmet is like that gift you open and it is sensible, but you are a tad disappointed with because it isn’t what you were hoping for. You know you’ll probably get use out of it, but you were really hoping for something bigger. Blue Jays fans have been waiting for a big move for a while now. There have been many names available, but one by one, high impact bullpen arms have been flying off the shelf.
But, perhaps Preston Guilmet can make us forget all about that. He made his MLB debut on July 10, 2013 against your Toronto Blue Jays. He went 2/3 of an inning with a strike out. The victim was Munenroi Kawasaki.
According to Pitch f/x, Guilmet features a 89.5 mph fastball, a slider that he throws over half the time and a cutter. In 2013, he threw a changeup but there wasn’t much of a difference in velocity from his fastball. His fastball has a wFB/C value of 0.56, which means it saves him half a run per 100 pitches. His slider is his best pitch with a wSL/C value of 1.37.
It is not clear how his pitching style will play out at Rogers Centre. He’s a 34.5% fly ball pitcher (which is down from 41.7% in 2013) with a ground ball rate of 41.4%. What makes me nervous is the HR/FB rate of 20%. 2 out of every 10 fly balls off him have been for home runs. That doesn’t bode well for a guy who gives up 34.5 fly balls out of 100.
While none of this screams “closer”, which apparently, the Blue Jays are focussing on, Guilmet does have experience in that role. Throughout his minor league career, he has collected 100 saves since 2010. This total also includes 35 in 2011. Granted, that was A+ Kinston in the Cleveland Indians organization. However, over the last 2 seasons in AAA, he has 30 saves.
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None of this is to suggest that he could be the next closer for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, it is worth noting. It is especially so when you factor in that traditionally, Guilmet has had success to the tune of a WHIP at or below 1.00 in each of the last 5 seasons at the minor league level, which he maintained in his very brief time (10 innings) at the big league level. His 10.1 K/9 rate coupled with a 1.9 BB/9 last season make him a good candidate for the bullpen in Toronto.
When you look for bullpen help, you want a guy who will come in and throw strikes. Guilmet does that. He has closing experience. He may not be a flame thrower, but he does hit the strike zone. Perhaps the only knock on him is that he is hittable to the tune of a career 7.1/9 rate. There is no doubting his ability to be in the strike zone. But, catching too much of it is not going to help either. Throwing to a guy like Russell Martin may allow someone like Guilmet to play with the outside of the strike zone a bit more.
While Preston Guilmet may not be the saviour of the bullpen for the Toronto Blue Jays, he may very well be an ‘under the radar’ welcome addition in 2015.
Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians player Preston Guilmet takes part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports