Blue Jays: 5 LH relief pitchers to consider

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

 Matt Thornton   (39)
2015: 41.1 IP, 2.18 ERA

This wouldn’t be complete without a grizzled veteran, and we have that in the form of Matt Thornton. A Darren Oliver signing, if you will. Thornton posted another very efficient season with the Washington Nationals in 2015, and has only allowed his ERA to climb above 3.50 once since 2007.

Despite his age, I’d still expect Thornton to command a decent salary on the open market. Again, with the current crop of free agents, $1 million arms will quickly become $1.6 million arms, and so on.

Next: Examining how Pirates and Blue Jays could match up on trade for bullpen help

He doesn’t come without cause for worry, though. Thornton’s K/9 dropped all the way down to 5.0 last season, well below his career average of 8.8. He continued to maintain a great walk rate and has always done very well to avoid home runs, but the flamethrower saw his average fastball velocity drop nearly two full miles per hour to 93.5 in 2015.

Thornton did see a dip in 2013 followed by a bounce-back in 2014 velocity, however, so perhaps he’ll continue to justify the contracts that he earns. Even a 90% Matt Thornton is a great bullpen option, and another one to add to the Blue Jays radar. While he’d be best suited as a lefty-specialist, his splits haven’t yet gotten to the point of someone like Howell, and he could be trusted to get through a full inning featuring right-handed bats.