Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays’ Osuna makes strong spring appearance

Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) throws a bullpen at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) throws a bullpen at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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There aren’t many question marks left for the Blue Jays prior to Opening Day, but one of the remaining was the health of closer, Roberto Osuna. He helped quiet any concern on Friday, pitching a scoreless 6th inning.

The Blue Jays have wrapped up the Dunedin portion of their spring training schedule, and are headed for a fun-filled weekend in Montreal to wrap up the Grapefruit League season. When we get to this portion of the schedule, most of the questions surrounding the club are usually answered, but the Blue Jays still have a couple final decisions to make.

One of the no-doubt decisions was who would be the closer in 2017, a spot occupied by Roberto Osuna, who has thrived in the role since entering the league two seasons ago. The only question around Osuna was whether or not he was healthy enough to begin the year pitching the 9th inning.

The 22 year old has struggled with stiffness in his neck, among other somewhat minor concerns this spring, including a “bad mattress”. He just hasn’t been quite right yet, and you could argue that it’s shown up in his performance.

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In the World Baseball Classic, Osuna made two appearances for Team Mexico and was only able to record 2 outs. He allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks, good for an ERA of 54.00. Granted, we’re talking about an extremely small sample size, but the kid was roughed up in the tournament.

He’s looked much better in Grapefruit League action, but it’s taken him a little while to look comfortable on the mound. Overall, he’s got a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings this spring, but there were still legitimate questions about if he’s healthy to start the regular season.

For example, when Osuna returned to the mound on Tuesday after his absence, he didn’t allow an earned run, but looked a little shaky against the Phillies. After a Josh Donaldson error with two out, the star closer allowed a 2 run home run to Tommy Joseph, followed by another single, before recording the final out. Wednesday’s 1-2-3 outing was much more satisfying, despite it looking the same in his ERA column.

Osuna is set to return to the closer’s role for the 3rd year, flanking a bullpen that also includes the likes of Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini, J.P. Howell, Joe Smith, and a couple spots that have yet to be announced. It’ll be important to keep Osuna healthy and productive at the back end of the bullpen, as high-leverage depth isn’t the Blue Jays’ greatest strength.

Next: Blue Jays enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Debuting as a 20 year old in 2015, he saved 20 games and finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. The talented youngster finished last season with 36 saves, a 2.68 ERA, and 82 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched, also picking up a playoff save over the course of 9 scoreless innings.

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