Blue Jays season preview: 5 reasons this could be the year
No. 2: The bullpen’s three-headed monster (and more)
Rule number one: The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays bullpen can not, at any time, be referred to as “following the Kansas City Royals” model. Having a quality bullpen and multiple back-end options is not a recent invention of Toronto’s least-loved rival, but in 2016, the Jays have a ‘pen of their own to be feared.
Roberto Osuna is back as closer, and despite his age and the competition from Drew Storen, my gut tells me that it would take a lot for John Gibbons to reverse this decision at any point in the season. This may be Osuna’s home for a long, long time.
And that’s just fine. The 21-year-old Mexican broke out as a legitimate star in 2015 after arriving well ahead of his expected arrival at the big league level. Striking out over one batter an inning, Osuna recorded 20 saves after taking over for Brett Cecil and Miguel Castro, posting a 2.58 ERA.
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Setting up for him will be Drew Storen, who is perfectly capable of being the firmly-entrenched closer on many teams in this league. He was one of baseball’s best ninth-inning men before the arrival of the universally-loved Jonathan Papelbon last season, and while his collapse following that move has brought on questions of his mental strength, Storen’s history of success speaks for itself. He should be a perfect fit with Gibbons, too, who has the utmost appreciation for the comfort of his veterans.
To the seventh inning, where Brett Cecil awaits. Along with being one of the game’s most dominant strikeout arms, Cecil is also a lefty who is chasing a free agent contract. There’s a lot to love about his 2016 season already.
One factor to watch will be how flexible Gibbons is with Cecil and Storen, and whether he flip-flops them to get Cecil lined up with back-to-back lefty hitters at any point.
Even beyond the big three, however, the Jays are looking very comfortable. Both Chavez and Floyd can provide length, while Floyd’s velocity still does bring hopes of him becoming 2016’s Liam Hendriks (as I’d initially assumed was the goal at the time of his signing).
Ryan Tepera, Joe Biagini, and Arnold Leon are still fighting for jobs, but with the depth we’ve already discussed, the sixth and seventh spots in Toronto’s bullpen should quickly settle into a quality option for the long haul.
Next: No. 1: The big reason. And damn, it's a big one.