Apr 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Albers (34) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Albers (32)
2015: 37.1 IP, 1.21 ERA
Albers is a name flying relatively under the radar, and I consider him a quality fit for the Blue Jays in the same vein of a Burke Badenhop. With a pounding sinker and ground ball tendencies, Albers could chew up some very nice innings in the middle of Toronto’s bullpen without breaking the bank.
Beginning his career as a starter with the Astros and Orioles, Albers battled through some fairly inconsistent years before finding his groove as a relief pitcher in 2012. Since that time, and for a staggering five different franchises, he’s pitched 170.2 innings out of the bullpen to an ERA of 2.32. While his walks and strikeouts aren’t something to swoon over, he keeps the ball in the yard and feeds his infielders.
After a career of fairly stable velocity, it’s odd that Albers’ sinker dipped by nearly 2.5 MPH down to a level of 89.7 last season. His slider, changeup and seldom-used curveball all experienced a similar dip, so while the results on the field remained very strong, that’s enough to cause a raised eyebrow.
Albers, like Badenhop, would fit into a Toronto bullpen with or without Osuna and Sanchez on the back end, as their role would not change or drift closer to the late innings. The back-end picture will gain some clarity over the coming weeks, but expect the Jays to be involved with many arms, and keep an eye out for these five first and foremost.