Toronto Blue Jays 2016 season preview: Bo Schultz


Among the many battles taking place in Dunedin this spring, perhaps the most uncertain will be the bullpen competition. In the middle of the returning arms and new faces is 28 year old Bo Schultz, looking to prove that 2015 was no fluke, and that he belongs in the majors.

Past Entries:  Marco Estrada   Justin Smoak    Brett Cecil   Devon Travis
Darwin Barney    R.A. Dickey   J.A. Happ   Josh Donaldson   Ryan Goins
Michael Saunders   Aaron Sanchez   Ryan Tepera   Drew Hutchison   Drew Storen
Jesse Chavez   Roberto Osuna   Josh Thole   Aaron Loup   Dalton Pompey

2015 Performance Recap

Bo Schultz began the year with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, thriving in 16 appearances with a 1.69 ERA. In June, he was promoted to Toronto and ended up contributing 43 innings pitched over 31 appearances. Armed with a fastball that touches the high 90’s, Schultz managed to make the most of his extended opportunity in the big leagues, and finished with an ERA of 3.56, and a WHIP of 1.07.

The former Diamondback only received 3 appearances in September and was left off the playoff roster, but no doubt enjoyed being part of the pennant race, and gained valuable experience to take with him going forward.

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2016 Role and Steamer Projection

Despite the bullpen competition, Steamer projects Schultz getting a healthy 27 appearances and 35 innings pitched in 2016. He is expected to take a slight step back in ERA at 4.04, but does show small growth in both K/9, and walks.

While it’s possible Schultz could break camp with the team, it’s far more likely that he serves as injury depth in Buffalo, waiting for injury or ineffectiveness to someone on the big league roster.

What Could Go Wrong?

The 6’3 fireballer will face an uphill battle to make the opening day roster, as the Blue Jays have compiled a surprising amount of depth arms this offseason. Among the guarantees in the bullpen are Drew Storen, Roberto Osuna, and Brett Cecil. The Blue Jays also have at least one of the starters who won’t open the season in the rotation in Jesse Chavez or Aaron Sanchez (and possibly Drew Hutchison depending on what decisions are made), and likely Gavin Floyd.

Add that to the likes of Steve Delabar, David Aardsma, Ryan Tepera, Pat Venditte, and Joe Biagini, and you can see why Schultz is anything but guaranteed a spot on the roster.

What Could Go Right?

Each season the burly right hander seems to take steps in the right direction. Still only 30, Schultz has less mileage on his arm that other pitchers his age, and his watched his strikeout rate climb as he’s learned to harness his arsenal.

Schultz will need a few dominoes to fall into place in order to get an opening day roster spot, but chances are it won’t take long for him to get an opportunity, regardless of where he begins the season.

Next: Blue Jays to audition Pillar, Saunders for leadoff spot

The Bottom Line

The Blue Jays liked what they saw from Schultz enough to pick him off waivers in 2014, and he’s taken positive steps forward since arriving in the organization. While he isn’t expected to play a prominent role in 2016, the bullpen is generally the most volatile position in baseball, and there is every possibility a guy like Schultz could establish himself as a late inning reliever.

At the very least, the Blue Jays should be happy to have another hard throwing depth arm. You can never have too many.