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Are Blue Jays banking on velocity jump from Gavin Floyd?

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The Blue Jays decision to give pitcher Gavin Floyd a guaranteed major league contract was unexpected, but perhaps his velocities can still be maxed out

Gavin Floyd’s guaranteed one-year, $1 million deal with an additional $1 million in available incentives has raised some eyebrows.

The MLB-level deal, which puts Floyd in the driver’s seat of an opening day roster spot, doesn’t seem like something the Blue Jays would be looking to get roped into. Unless, of course, the organization knows something that we don’t. Yes, I understand how shocking that may be.

Joshua Howsam over at Blue Jays Plus had a piece yesterday examining Floyd’s impact on the rest of the staff which is well worth a read, so as someone who personally sees Floyd as a relief pitcher on this team, my mind continued to spin on just how this was going to work.

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That answer might be hiding in his seven brief relief appearances with the Cleveland Indians in September of 2015. Here, you can access the Brooks Baseball data for his maximum release velocities on those games, showing that his fastball often topped 95.0 miles per hour out of the hand and approached 96.0.

Now, this isn’t a terribly uncommon release velocity for Floyd in his career, but a move into a relief role can now allow for him to maximize his arm effort into short bursts. Especially given his injury history, Floyd’s starting days may be over regardless.

This is an idea I’ve toyed with recently regarding both Liam Hendriks and, to a lesser extent, Mark Lowe. In Lowe’s case, he recaptured a velocity that he’d been missing for several seasons, while Hendriks found a level of pop that he’d never before shown at the major league level.

So as these two members of the Blue Jays 2015 bullpen show, a quality bullpen arm does not need to be bought at a high cost on the open market or traded for. Sometimes, it can be built.

This contract suggests that the Blue Jays are willing to try. Given the hands-on knowledge Shapiro and Atkins hold with Floyd from just several months ago, not to mention the fact that Toronto’s scouting and analytics departments are likely involved here, there’s enough reason to throw caution to the wind and trust a signing that doesn’t look to add up at first glance.

Past his fastball which is sometimes classified as a sinker, Floyd throws a cutter that is sometimes classified as a slider with a curveball and changeup.

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