Just like the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, their bullpen also offers opposition batters many diverse styles to get accustomed to.
When you look at the Blue Jays rotation you’ve got a couple of big lefties in J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano, a “spinner” with the ability to manipulate the baseball many different ways in Marcus Stroman, our change-up magician Marco Estrada who continues to baffle hitters, and a burgeoning ace in Aaron Sanchez who can overpower hitters with his raw stuff and live slingshot arm, reminiscent of Pedro Martinez.
The bullpen also offers different looks to batters which can definitely work to the Jays advantage as it’s certainly not easy to make adjustments in-game. Especially facing a side-winder like Joe Smith, reminiscent of beloved retiree Mark Eichhorn, or southpaw Aaron Loup for example who drops low and zips the ball across the plate, right at the knees.
In hindsight, one can see that this is by design. Looking at the different hurlers it’s not just about numbers but about how they’ll work in tandem with the rest of their colleagues to shut down an adversary’s offence.
That’s just a couple of names to give you an idea but there are of course other names and styles that could make for a nice mix in the pen. It also projects to be a good mix of young hurlers and veterans.
One downside of all this pitching depth is that Bo Schultz is out of options and after his bad outing yesterday, he better pick up his game or he likely won’t be a Blue Jay come April. I wouldn’t shed too much of a tear for Schultz though as he most likely would be claimed off waivers by another club and thus not be unemployed.
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But really that’s just the tip of the iceberg: I haven’t even mentioned “the usual suspects” like Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and of course Roberto Osuna who all have their own bag of tricks to get hitters out (Osuna still occasionally bringing out that hitch in his wind-up, for example, making the hitter wait just that much longer for example – love it.)
It’s also an enviable situation to have some seemingly quality lefty arms to choose from. From the experience of J.P. Howell to the youth of Matt Dermody. Likely more than enough options to fill the void left by Brett Cecil’s departure.
I could go on too. I haven’t even mentioned Mat Latos who dare I say is showing glimpses of his old self with a strong mound presence, using an arsenal of seven pitches to get the job done.
I don’t blame the Jays for avoiding spending a fortune on the bullpen especially when you see it formulating right before one’s very eyes.
The season is about a month away so it really is too early to tell with any certainty how this bullpen will look, and how it will perform in pulse-raising conditions. It does seem to all be coming together, though, and in an unexpected and crafty way.
Just as a spectator, from my experience I did feel a tinge of envy when the Baltimore Orioles trotted out Darren O’Day or one of their other sidearmers. Now the Jays have a motley crue of hurlers we can call our own.
The more I watch, the more I believe. I think I’ve officially drunk the kool-aid. I don’t want to thank the front office quite yet because it’s still early but there’s a distinct possibility I might. It doesn’t just stop with GM Ross Atkins and President Mark Shapiro though. The Blue Jays obviously have a plethora of scouts and analytics personnel that have worked very hard this off-season to try to put together a team with a real chance of three-peating in post-season appearances.