Blue Jays: What’s wrong with Roberto Osuna?

Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker (40) and relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) talk at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker (40) and relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) talk at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays dropped both games of a double header with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, to close out their three game set. In the first game, Roberto Osuna blew his 3rd save in 6 chance on the young season.

The struggles continue for the Blue Jays, as they lost yet another series, this time at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. After winning the opener on Tuesday night in dramatic fashion, the Jays dropped both games in Thursday’s double header, necessitated by Wednesday’s rain out.

The Blue Jays had a 4-0 lead as late as the 7th inning, and entered the 9th with a 4-2 lead. Roberto Osuna entered the game looking to close things out, and failed to do so for the 3rd time on the young season. Unfortunately, Osuna served up a two run shot to Randal Grichuk, which tied the game and took it to extra innings.

It’s the 3rd blown save already for Roberto Osuna, who just hasn’t looked like his dominant self thus far in 2017. He started the season on the 10 day disabled list and made his debut on April 11th against the Brewers, but thus far just hasn’t seemed as though he’s 100% back to where he needs to be.

If you ask him though, he’ll tell you he’s feeling just fine physically, and won’t use anything like that as an excuse for his early performance. He had several comments, in this tweet from Arash Madani quoted from bluejays.mlb.com, following the first game of the doubleheader.

There have been several questions about Osuna’s velocity, especially after a spring in which is took him awhile to get healthy, battling neck problems along the way. He’s been able to ramp up the radar gun in the past, and maxed out at 96 on Thursday as well, so he’s likely telling the truth when he says he feels okay physically.

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Grichuk’s home run came on a 94 MPH fastball that caught far too much of the plate, which has been the greater issue for the 22 year old in 2017. After being a dominant closer in his first two seasons in the MLB, struggling isn’t something he’s had to endure much as a big leaguer, as his ERA sits at 7.50 in his first 6 innings.

Even manager John Gibbons admitted there was reason for concern with his young closer, and cited the wonky spring preparation Osuna dealt with this year, juggling injuries and an appearance with Team Mexico at the World Baseball Classic.

Osuna was rocked in his lone appearance at the WBC and his season has never really gotten on track since then. It could extend as far back as the 2016 playoffs and stretch run as well, when the dynamic closer was counted on arguably too often as the Blue Jays pursued a championship. He stepped up and delivered for the club for the most part, but his injury concerns were a consistent narrative throughout the playoffs.

For now, the team will have to hope he can get things back on track and hopefully it won’t require removing him from the closer’s role for any length of time. While there are others in the bullpen who have performed admirably this season, none possess the late game arsenal that Osuna has in his tool bag.

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He’s an incredibly talented young man who loves the closer’s role, so it’s hard to imagine his struggles continuing for much longer, assuming he’s healthy. In the meantime, it’s just another reason for Blue Jays fans to scratch their head, and throw their hands in the air in frustration.

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