Blue Jays: 5 LH relief pitchers to consider

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Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Sipp   (32)
2015: 54.1 IP, 1.99 ERA

Tony Sipp is hitting the open market at the right time, and every little out counted in 2015 as that 1.99 ERA looks so much nicer than a 2.00. Originally a 45th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2004 (where he played until 2012, so there’s a Shapiro link to keep in mind), Sipp has since spent time with the Diamondbacks and Astros.

Viewing Sipp’s transition from 2013 through until this past season is encouraging, as he did take noticeable strides in each full offseason. A 32-year old reliever coming off a career year is always a risky free agent scenario, but with two consecutive years moving in the right direction, Sipp is given some level of added clarity.

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Above all else, Sipp’s pitch control has saved him. He walked an ugly 5.3 batters per nine in 2013, and posted a BB/9 above 5.0 twice earlier in career. Once it gets to that point, you’re dealing with a free base runner every second outing on average. Since his improvements began in 2013, however, Sipp dropped his BB/9 to 3.0 in 2014 then down to a career low of 2.5 this past season. I doubt it’s a sustainable drop, but at the very least, the 5.0 days seem to be over.

Sipp did see his average velocities drop by 1.0 MPH or more across the board this past season, and while his changeup continued to be effective, his fastball and slider seemed to take a step backwards. He was still topping out around 92 MPH, however, and looking at his past few seasons, this could be a outlying fluctuation.

He seems to have enjoyed his time in Houston and expressed a desire to return, but given the lefty market around him, Sipp will have suitors. He’s not the safest bet to make, but his price tag could come to reflect that.

Next: Next up, a man whose arm is back in one piece...