Blue Jays Hope Spring Will Bring Closure About the Closer


It may seem like repetitive news and it kind of is…the Blue Jays do not have a certified closer. There are a vast array of talent (thick and thin) suiting up this spring as over 60 of the best prospects take over Dunedin will hopes of landing a precious spot on the final 25. The number of arms is not staggering but still leans to the vast surplus side due to the fact there are so many openings available. Alex Anthopoulos has given this team next to no new, star-laden relievers this winter. In fact he lost some and in terms of MLB service time did not replace these pieces with value (see Janssen, Casey, Washington Nationals).

He made trades and he perused the free agent market and yet he came up with nothing. There are still some enticing names out there going into the spring and you can be sure the Jays are keeping on eye out. Rafael Soriano….Francisco Rodriguez…apparently Tyler Clippard was available too for a has-been lousy shortstop…I am sure we could have peddled a Danny Valencia or Maicer Izturis if that’s what the Nationals wanted…but I digress.

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AA must be pretty satisfied that there will be a few reclamation products they prove themselves ready for the pen. That Steve Delabar or Kyle Drabek may find the consistency needed to pitch out of the pen…that Aaron Sanchez doesn’t have to assume a closers role because someone like Brett Cecil might step up. Maybe he is really thinking out of the box…so who would some of these out of the box candidates be?

Kyle Drabek:

Remember this guy? The big guy who was the main cog in the package that brought Roy Halladay to the Phillies? Well Halladay did his part what with the Cy Young stuff and the perfect game in the playoffs stuff and generally being Roy Halladay. Drabek was a sure-fire rotation guy with filthy stuff who was said to be even better than his dad who roiled away for over a decade as a MLB pitcher. Now?

Drabek has had two Tommy John‘s, erratic control and I am sure a mental beat down since the trade…heck if he doesn’t pan out who is it we got for Halladay…Devon Travis? R.A. Dickey? Yikes! That being said Drabek is out of options and still has a pretty decent arsenal on his arm. A live fastball coupled with a great off-speed offering could spell closer. If he has any control now in his age 27 year then he could slip into the closer role to allow for more depth at the starting spot by leaving Aaron Sanchez as a rotation guy or as back up in Buffalo. Drabek has the stuff…does he have the guile?

Matt West:

This could be the new Sergio Santos…well before he came to the Blue Jays. A converted shortstop, West was not hitting as a shortstop needs so he was converted to pitcher and he too has quite the live arm. He played short because he had the arm needed and he may have found new life as a potential closer candidate.

He has the pedigree and he has the stature to truly be a legitimate closer. He is young enough (26) to sink into the role full time and doesn’t have the wear and tear on his arm that other pitchers may have. If the Jays were patient enough to do the Dustin McGowan trials (damn you Dodgers) then they should definitely keep West in mind for the closers role.

Wilton Lopez:

Now here is a good stop gap measure. Lopez has had double digit saves in a season once with the Astros in 2012 and his ERA that year was 2.17. That looks like a decently successful year. His follow up years in Houston the Colorado were less than ok. He really lost control and gave up way too many hits per 9.

This could be Pete Walker‘s side project this spring. A love arm and some success in the role is more than you could say for the vast majority of the candidates for the bullpen. Lopez is on the wrong side of 30 but we all know closers are not usually a career position. They change constantly. We have enough fodder to find one guy and Lopez could be that guy.

Establishing the closer is a Blue Jays top priority as it will allow them to develop their younger pitchers the way they need to at this point…to be members of the rotation, Stretch them out so you have the 9-10 you may need in a season. If the Jays think a little outside the box then they may be able to cobble a bul.pen together that rivals the 2013 edition…we hope.