Blue Jays: 5 RH relief pitchers to consider in free agency

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Jul 2, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Shawn Kelley (56) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. The Padres defeated the Cardinals 5-3 in eleven innings Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Shawn Kelley   (31)
2015: 51.1 IP, 2.45 ERA

Blue Jays fans likely remember Shawn Kelley as a barely-decent middle reliever with the New York Yankees, one whose raw stuff never quite played as well as it should have. A lot has changed in one season with the San Diego padres, and Kelley enters the 2015 free agent pool with some wildcard value in the right situation.

Kelley has always been able to strike batters out, posting K/9 numbers of 12.0, 11.7 and 11.0 in the past three seasons. He works with a fastball that touches 93 MPH and a very good slider, one which played a starring role in his breakout 2015 campaign.

Cutting down on walks and improving his plate control helped Kelley immensely this past season, which shows in his 2.45 ERA, 1.091 WHIP and 2.57 FIP (well below career average). Having another strikeout arm in the Blue Jays bullpen alongside Brett Cecil would allow for John Gibbons to execute in high-leverage situations with a greater success, and save Brett Cecil for lefty matchups when he sees fit.

One worry with Kelley, past the fact that his 2015 season was an outlier from the rest of career, is his limited ground ball tendency. That’s not ideal for the Rogers Centre, but he’s done very well to keep his HR/9 numbers down, and a high strikeout total would help to balance that further. He wouldn’t be Toronto’s stud out of the pen, but in a role similar to Lowe or Hawkins this past season, there’s potential.

Next: And now for another under-the-radar righty...