Blue Jays: What’s best for Osuna right now?

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 14: Raffy Lopez
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 14: Raffy Lopez /

It looked like the Blue Jays were going to salvage at least one game in their series with the Cubs this weekend, but a 10th inning implosion with Roberto Osuna on the mound left them swept in three straight at Wrigley Field.

The Blue Jays were riding a wave of excitement on their way into Wrigley Field this weekend, and are leaving Chicago in a very different place. Getting swept has a way of dampening momentum, especially when a blown save opportunity is the note you’re leaving on. Unfortunately the Blue Jays blew a 5-3 lead in the 10th inning, despite having All-Star closer Roberto Osuna on the mound.

The frame was a disaster, with two strikeouts by Osuna failing to register as outs, two hits, a walk, and a hit batter. Jason Hayward delivered the biggest blow with a two run single, and what looked like a salvageable series just a few minutes earlier, quickly turned into a series sweep.

Obviously things didn’t go as planned, and it’s disappointing to see Osuna blow another save, his eighth on the 2017 campaign. He’s now tied with Tony Watson and Jim Johnson, leading the big leagues in blown saves despite his lights out performance for much of the year. The second half hasn’t been nearly as kind to the 22 year old, as his ERA has went from 2.06 before the All-Star break, to his current mark of 3.61. He entered Sunday’s game with a 5.06 ERA in the second half, a mark that will go up even further after the season’s finale with the Cubs.

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Before I go any further, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of the Mexican born pitcher, and I absolutely believe in him as an elite level closer. It’s just that, well, he’s been kinda bad lately.

It wasn’t completely on him on Sunday by any means, as the two strikeouts didn’t contribute toward getting out of the inning, but he wasn’t sharp either. When he’s on his game it seems like the opposition doesn’t have much hope at the plate. On Sunday it spiralled out of control when it looked like the Jays had the game in the bag. .

In his defence for this outing, there were the missed outs on the strikeouts, and he also had to take a night off earlier this week with the flu as well, which certainly doesn’t help matters. Unfortunately things are compounded for him at this point, mostly because of the other recent blown saves.

I’m not necessarily calling for him to be removed from the closer’s role, but it might be worth exploring the idea on a temporary basis, with his best interest in mind. We’ve seen it before with plenty of talented closers over the years, sometimes needing a break from the role while they make an adjustment with their approach, or regain some lost confidence. It can be the best thing to get a pitcher back on track sometimes. Osuna has always been the type to bounce back well from a blown save, but this one had to sting a little more, especially considering his second half struggles.

Maybe he needed another day or two to be at full strength after feeling ill, or maybe things would have gone differently if a strikeout could have collected an out in the ninth. Whatever it is, the Blue Jays are likely discussing what’s best for Osuna and the team, both in the short and long term. There’s little doubt that he’s the long term solution at closer, but now that he leads the MLB in blown saves, maybe it’s time to give him a breather and get him back to performing at his best.

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That pitcher is nearly untouchable, and the Blue Jays would be well served to help him get back to being that guy, even if it means a temporary break from high pressure role.