Chad Girodo was recalled three times by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016, his rookie season
The Toronto Blue Jays need left-handed pitching. They need an outfielder, a first baseman, and heck, maybe a backup catcher for good measure.
At all of these positions the in-house depth is commonly deemed to be fine, but little more. Whether it be Dalton Pompey, Ezequiel Carrera, A.J. Jimenez, Bo Schultz, or any other number of on-the-cusp Blue Jays, there is room to reasonably improve the roster.
Budgets have limits, though, so among these depth options, some of them will simply have to do. Lefty reliever Chad Girodo, one of the few MLB-ready options at one of Toronto’s thinnest positions, could be one of those players.
Girodo debuted with the Blue Jays in 2016 and pitched 10.1 innings with a 4.35 ERA. He managed just five strikeouts and allowed three home runs — an outlier stat that will normalize — but did hold left-handed hitters to a line of 4-for-19 with one double.
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The 2015 season was Girodo’s real jumping-off point in the Blue Jays’ system, beginning with advanced-A Dunedin and ending in triple-A Buffalo. The 25-year-old posted a cumulative 1.34 ERA that season over 60.1 innings with 58 strikeouts and just nine walks. Most impressive of all were his numbers against lefties, who he held to a .266 OPS over 77 plate appearances. Not batting average. OPS.
Granted, that’s hardly enough of a sample size to extrapolate long-term projections from, but Girodo’s overall makeup and track record does present the Blue Jays with a viable left-on-left option. Girodo also provides excellent ground ball potential thanks to his sinker.
“I’m a sinkerball guy so righty, lefty, switch, I’m trying to keep the ball on the ground,” Girodo said this May in Buffalo after his first MLB call-up that lasted one scoreless outing. “Punch-outs are always awesome, but if the situation is screaming ‘Hey, get a ground ball right here’, it’s just so much easier and so much more efficient.”
Girodo spoke about using ground balls as a tool to limit his pitches and allow him to provide the team with more length than a traditional lefty speciality, too.
“I’m trying to be more versatile,” Girodo said, “because I know the elephant in the room for me is the righties. The big righties. And I want to be able to bridge myself where it’s left-right-left. Where, hey, I’m not just a one-hitter guy. I can get the righty to get to the lefty, and that way I can stretch out to an inning or two.”
One of Girodo’s main appeals to the Blue Jays is his price tag. “Young and cheap” is one of the more valuable one-two combos a reliever can offer his team, and while Girodo does need to improve against those right-handed bats, even a season of modest MLB-level value would grant the Blue Jays added flexibility elsewhere.
If Toronto feels that they can get ~50 innings of specialized relief out of Girodo with a ~3.70 ERA and strong lefty numbers, spending $4 million or more on a mid-range veteran — potentially for two seasons — becomes easier to avoid.
The loss of Brett Cecil to free agency has left the Blue Jays without a left-hander that they can immediately trust in high-leverage situations, and Cecil’s deal will create a lefty relief market where teams can only hope to break even on their dollar. In an off-season of wants and needs, that might be something the Blue Jays need to live without.