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Blue Jays welcome back Jesse Chavez: A Pitcher’s profile

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After a trade with the Oakland Athletics, the Toronto Blue Jays are ready to welcome Jesse Chavez back to the mound. Here’s a quick profile.

While many Jays fans are still mourning the departure of Liam Hendriks, Jesse Chavez is a welcome addition to the Blue Jays. This is not the veteran righty’s first time in Toronto, he was with the team briefly in the 2012 season before being acquired by the Athletics. Now that he’s back in blue, he looks to be a key contributor for the Jays in the 2016 season. Chavez was drafted in 2003 by the Cubs in the 39th round. He broke into the major leagues in 2008 with the Pirates.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

After posting average numbers, he was traded to the Rays who then moved him to Atlanta before the season starter. His Atlanta campaign saw him spend most of his time in the minors after a disappointing start to the season. He was then traded to the Royals where he failed to be productive in limited outings. He was then acquired by the Blue Jays off of waivers in 2012 and went on to pitch a meager 21 innings for the team. After that he was purchased by the Athletics in the middle of the season and hit the ground running.

While Chavez put up a strong freshman campaign in Oakland, Chavez’ best record to look back upon is arguably his 2014 season where he spent the bulk of his time as a starter. In the 2014 season he posted an 8-8 record with an ERA of 3.45 and a WHIP of 1.31. Chavez was a boon for the Athletics all season, but saw his starts diminish as the Athletics went all in at the trade deadline.

While his 2015 numbers were less than stellar (7-15, 4.18 ERA 1.35 WHIP), these numbers are a bit deceiving. Chavez posted the second most wins for the team, more than Scott Kazmir did before being traded to the Astros. Additionally Chavez had the second most Strikeouts on the A’s pitching staff, which is a good sign that his low K9 rate of 7.8 can climb back up to the ranges he’s capable of (8.5+). He was also pitching in front of the worst defensive team in baseball and for one of the least productive offenses in the American League.

Chavez’ dominant pitch is his fastball, which he uses almost fifty percent of the time. His velocity is normally in the lower 90’s. While this is his dominant and normally go-to pitch, he has been successful due to his secondary offering, the cutter, which he developed in the 2012 season with the Athletics. This pitch has allowed him to paint the corners in a way he cannot with his fastball. He also has a changeup in his arsenal and has been known to mix in a curveball and slowball every now and then.

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Chavez, at the very worst, fills in for Hendriks as the long reliever of the Jays bullpen, but further to the point, possesses the ability to be a quality utility starter. Given his track record, and ability to grow and adapt, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to believe that Chavez could pull an Estrada, which no one saw coming a year ago. He does also offer an incentive for Drew Hutchison to perform at the level the Jays know he’s capable of.

Unlike Hendriks, Chavez will be a favorite in the competition for the number 5 role in the rotation. For the Jays assuming another starter is added this offseason, a spot that had been pointing more towards Hutchison. While this is all speculation until the bigger offseason picture unfolds, Chavez’ impact for the Blue Jays rotation and bullpen is not. He will provide an immediate and durable arm capable of going deep into a game. Welcome back to Toronto Jesse Chavez.

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