What role is hurler Joe Biagini best suited for in 2017? Should the Toronto Blue Jays utilize him as a starter or reliever for the upcoming campaign?
The 6’5 righty continues camp activities with the rest of the squad, yet with the psychological burden of not knowing whether he will continue in his role from last year, as the set-up to the set-up man, or be sent to the Jays AAA affiliate, Buffalo, to work as a starter.
Looking at each of them: Latos career-wise was great. Until 2015. Prior to, he kept an ERA in a comfortable 3 range from several seasons. Ever since though it’s been 4 at minimum, posting a 6.52 last year with the Washington Nationals.
Bolsinger comes with a smaller resume than Latos, with 3 years under his belt in the bigs, while trending in the right direction in 2015, his ERA at 3.62 with the Dodgers. That year he also logged 98 K’s over 109 innings pitched. As for last year, he only made 6 appearances due to health issues, so it would be unfair to make any projections based on such a sample size.
We’ll see how Grapefruit action plays out (ever so soon). No doubt John Gibbons, Pete Walker and the rest of the men who steer the ship want to get a good look at all their options, and really see what they have on their hands.
At the very least depth is not an issue with a host of other pitchers competing for just a couple of spots in the pen. Aside from the flurry of recent activity from our front office bringing in relief arms, don’t forget the Ryan Tepera‘s, and Bo Schultz‘s for example, who have had some very respectable strings of appearances with the club in medium to high-leverage situations. For a closer look at roster juggling with respect to the relief corps, have a look at Brendan Pannikkar’s latest column on our site.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
But when it comes to evaluating who will be your starter should one of the Jays “starting 5” need a day off, it becomes a tougher decision when one also considers that the unsung “long-man” stashed away in that bullpen, can keep your team in the game, especially in a close contest. With the potentially explosive 2017 Jays offence, one can never really take one’s eye off a game, until the last out.
So looking at the names mentioned here, it’s no doubt a tough decision to make, and a decision will need to be made as there’s only so much roster space, and a spot-starter would need to be ready to go; already accustomed to the role, having started regularly on the farm.
Looking at it logically, primary concerns for a bullpen are your 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys with a lead on the line.
So it becomes a matter of “why fix it if it ain’t broke”?
Biagini emerged last year as a crucial member of the supporting cast that leads its way up to the iceman, Roberto Osuna, and John Gibbons does seem to prefer going with known commodities. So why mess with that, especially with Joaquin Benoit taken out of the mix?
Ultimately it becomes a two-man race then, with Latos and Bolsinger slugging it out this spring for the spot-starter and long man jobs.
Either way, each could be serviceable in those roles and it makes sense when going down the depth chart, and maybe throw in Gavin Floyd as a contender for one of those jobs too if he surprises with durability.
*I would like to thank baseball-reference.com for stats cited – an invaluable resource, among others, within Google’s reach for all.