Blue Jays 2015 year in review: Roberto Osuna


Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna found himself on the rise in the 2015 season, quickly shooting from the ‘top prospect’ category to a prosperous young pitcher on the MLB roster.  The metamorphosis from raw talent to the team’s established closer has been a hot topic this season.  Osuna is still only 20 years old, and the amazing part of his game is the amount of confidence he brings to the mound with him every outing.  He has that presence of being here all along, it seems.  Osuna’s gamer mentality has been the driving force behind his historic rise, and will only fuel the fire going forward.

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To begin the 2015 season Roberto Osuna was expected to start in the minors, possibly playing for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  Osuna was, at the time, just over a year removed from Tommy John surgery and had only found his way into a hand full of games since.  He did pitch in the Arizona Fall League prior to spring training and struggled, just like he had in the short stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays.  So prior to spring training, he had only compiled 35.1 innings of professional baseball since the surgery.  This is why many expected him to start the season, and likely end it, in the minors.  The top prospect had a different idea, though, and came out of the gate in a full sprint.

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Osuna went on to dominate opposing hitters this past spring.  He would pitch 12.1 innings and only allowed 10 hits while striking out 14.  He sported a 2.19 ERA in exhibition play and was brought north with the team to pitch out of the bullpen.  Osuna quickly became one of John Gibbons favorite options out of the pen and eventually was named the team’s closer when other options failed ahead of him. His season would more than likely be Rookie of the Year worthy if he didn’t have such stiff competition.  Osuna pitched 69.2 innings and collected 75 strikeouts while only walking 16 batters.  This led him to posting a 2.58 ERA and 20 saves in his rookie campaign.  He also pitched well in the postseason for the Jays, throwing 8.1 innings total with a 2.16 ERA.

The Good

The rise of Osuna has filled a very important role in the Blue Jays bullpen.  He provided the reliability Toronto sorely needed this season and was a consistent, go-to player through some difficult stretches.  He performed well in high pressure situations and seemed to thrive in the closer’s spotlight.  This was due to his high strike out rate of 9.7 K’s per nine and a .191 opposing batting average.  Osuna has become a solid pitcher for the Blue Jays and will continue to improve now that he is fully removed from his Tommy John surgery, and should have little restrictions going forward.

The Bad

Now that Osuna has enjoyed success at the Major League level, how do the Jays use him going forward.  He has been stellar out of the bullpen and should be a sure lock for the closer’s position going forward if there are no further changes to the pen.  The issue, though, is that Osuna was a starting pitcher throughout his Minor League career.  He still projects as a great starter going forward, but could be an A+ closer with his stuff.  This season, Osuna had some issues near the end and appeared to fatigue just before the playoffs started.  He came out on top of this, but will his arm be able to sustain the work load of a starting pitcher?  It appears that his role may depend on what happens moving forward this off season as the front office begins to piece things together.  Where will there be a greater need for Osuna’s talents?

The Future

Look for Osuna’s name to be mixed in with the starting rotation candidates this coming spring.  He is clearly going to make the roster one way or the other.  His drive and work ethic will once again be on display, and if he is asked to compete for a starting job, I would imagine he pitches his way into it.  This is a good problem to have, as his flexibility and maturity should allow the Jays to operate more freely in the offseason.  Osuna is an extremely talented young player and has a very promising career trajectory thus far.  He will be a cornerstone of the Blue Jays for years to come.

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