Blue Jays reliever LaTroy Hawkins: Old Reliable


When the Toronto Blue Jays finalized their blockbuster trade for Troy Tulowitzki one week ago, count me among the strange minority that read the deal and thought “Yes! LaTroy Hawkins!” This Blue Jays bullpen has needed the addition of a steady veteran hand throughout the 2015 season, someone like Darren Oliver during his two-year stay with Toronto, and they’ve found that in the 42-year old Hawkins. As he showed on Monday, Hawkins has aged like bottle of fine cabernet.

Coming on in relief of David Price (that’s still fun to say), Hawkins was touching 95 MPH on his fastball with movement. Not quite Aaron Sanchez movement, but not entirely unlike it either. The righty needed just 10 pitches to record a clean inning of work, striking out one and not allowing a base runner.

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This brings Hawkins’ three-game total with the Blue Jays to 3.0 innings pitched with two hits and three strikeouts, building on a hot streak he began on June 11th after missing over a month and a half with an injury. In 20 appearances and 19.1 IP since that point, Hawkins has recorded a 0.93 ERA while holding opponents to a dominant line of .194 / .217 / .284.

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Hawkins is equally impressive off the field and around the younger players, but if you’re not convinced yet that LaTroy is The Most Interesting Man in the World Bullpen, check out this great piece from Andrew Simon of Sports on Earth. For starters, we learn Hawkins has spent time with 11 different franchises, and his 1,027 games played rank him 11th all-time among pitchers. By September, he should pass Trevor Hoffman for 10th on that list.

His first steps in the Major Leagues should serve as a lesson to young ball players, too, especially pitchers like our old friend Matt Boyd, whose ugly first outing overshadowed a fine man with great talent. As Simon alludes to in his feature, Hawkins lasted just 1.2 innings in his first career start way back in 1995. He allowed seven earned runs on seven hits, but he’s turned out alright.

Along with being one just 80 pitchers to record an immaculate inning at the MLB level, my new favorite LaTroy Fact involves another all-time great…from the hardwood. “He is the last remaining active pitcher to have faced Michael Jordan during the basketball legend’s brief foray into professional baseball in 1994.”

Grabbing Hawkins as a “throw in” to the Tulowitzki deal was an extremely valuable move by Anthopoulos, especially entering an AL East and Wild Card race that could very well be decided by two games or less. Toronto’s bullpen is stocked with young talent in Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna, but in Hawkins, manager John Gibbons has a option that’s experienced nearly everything a man can on an MLB diamond. No moment will be too large for Old Reliable, the sneakiest piece of value from this wild deadline week.

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