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Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Year in Review: Joe Biagini

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Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Joe Biagini (31) pitches during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Joe Biagini (31) pitches during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Joe Biagini went from a Rule 5 Draft Pick to trusted set up man in the course of one season for the Blue Jays.

From zero to hero doesn’t quite describe Biagini. At the beginning of the year BIagini was a side note. He was a nice piece added to an otherwise decimated farm system who possessed good stuff. Biagini looked like he could break into the majors as a starter or reliever sometime in the 2017 season, if things went well.

The Blue Jays learned early on that they were going to have to get creative with their bullpen and he was thrust into the spotlight. Biagini not only proved that he was ready for whatever Major League Baseball could throw at him. He also proved that the Giants let him go much too easily. Now he enters 2017 with a different uncertainty, will he open the season pitching out of the bullpen or rotation?

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The Good

At 26 Biagini came in and pitched 67 innings of relief in 60 games. In those games he posted a 3.06 ERA and a WHIP of 1.3. Along the way he struck out 62, good for almost one K an inning.  Biagini came into his own in the bullpen and quickly earned his place. Through the combination of his own skills and the mistakes of his colleagues, Joe saw plenty of high-leverage innings. At the height of the season, he commanded the 7th and even parts of the 8th inning, often to great effect.

More exciting are his postseason numbers. He appeared in 7.1 innings in the Blue Jays playoff run. During that time let up three hits, one walk, no earned runs, and struck out six.  The higher the stakes, the less it seems to matter. Biagini often seemed oblivious to situation surrounding him, focusing only on each pitch. It feels like there should be a next level of competition just so he can move up and defy all expectations there too.

The Bad

Biagini has good stuff, but he lets up his fair share of contact. in his 67 innings, he let up 69 hits. Many have speculated his good numbers too were due to “rookie luck”. An unfamiliar pitcher and unfamiliar repertoire typically performs poorer when the second time around. With greater exposure next season, his numbers could easily regress if he falls into a sophomore slump. The Blue Jays will need him to find some new pitches and better command to avoid this.

Next: Blue Jays OF Targets during the off season

The Future

Biagini has made himself a front runner for the 2017 opening roster. We have months to go between now and then and much could happen. He could be a stepping stone, a cheap option used to help build a better bullpen working in tandem with Roberto Osuna. Or, as Ross Atkins alluded to in his press conference on Monday, he could be stretched out and tried out as a starter.

This could be especially valuable if the Jays see fit to deal from their excellent wealth of quality rotation pieces. Biagini’s career is just starting, and if it’s anything like this year, it will be fun to watch him achieve new heights, all the while barely noticing he’s moved up.

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Other Toronto Blue Jays ‘Year in Review’ Profiles:  

Michael Saunders   Ryan Goins   Ezequiel Carrera

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