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Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna has shown new cutter, slower slider

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Mar 30, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Roberto Osuna’s first two outings for the Blue Jays have been excellent, with the 21-year-old closer throwing 2.0 innings with one hit and two strikeouts

In his first two save opportunities of the 2016 season Roberto Osuna has performed as advertised, but his arsenal has not gone without a couple interesting tweaks.

According to data from Brooks Baseball, Osuna has added a cutter that he threw once in game one at nearly 93 miles-per-hour.

Below, you will see Osuna’s 2015-16 slider velocity graphed in bright red. His lone cutter from 2016 is graphed in dark red in the upper right-hand corner.

Mandatory credit: Brooks Baseball
Mandatory credit: Brooks Baseball /

The slider velocity is included for a reason here, too. As you can see from the sample size of his first six sliders, they have travelled at a velocity nearly 3.0 MPH less than his average from last season. Yes, it is early in the year and his velocity still has room to ramp up, and this draws from a terribly small sample size, but Osuna did start off at a higher slider velocity in April of 2015 (his low-point for the year).

In addition to that, Osuna’s lower slider velocity has produced some improved horizontal movement. His slider averaged 2.70 inches of horizontal movement in 2015, but his first six sliders of 2016 have averaged 6.08 inches of movement.

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Instead, that 93 MPH cutter offered similar movement to his 2015 slider at 2.89 inches.

Osuna sat very comfortably in the 95-97 MPH range on Sunday and Monday, and after a day of rest on Tuesday he should be available for Wednesday afternoon’s finale against the Tampa Bay Rays before the Blue Jays enjoy a day off on Thursday.

If these first steps are a sign of things to come, then Osuna will be working with a velocity difference of 9-12 MPH between his fastball and slider instead of 6-9 MPH. This would be a significant development, especially with opposing hitters gripping the bat a little bit tighter in the ninth inning.

Resting just below that slider velocity is Osuna’s changeup, which he threw nearly 15% of the time in 2015 at an average velocity of 82.4 MPH. With just one changeup thrown in his first two outings, that could be the pitch Osuna moves down the pecking order for this slower slider and potentially-developing cutter.

If this slider is more than a one-off, it could help Osuna to be even more effective against left-handed hitters. Across 2015 and his two 2016 appearances, lefties have produced a .638 OPS against Osuna compared to a .520 OPS from right-handers.

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