Blue Jays: How important is Martin’s return for Osuna?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 02: Russell Martin
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 02: Russell Martin /

Roberto Osuna nailed down his 36th save of the season on Friday, and looked at home throwing to Russell Martin, who recently returned from the DL.

It’s been a tale of two seasons for Roberto Osuna, who has been untouchable at times, and has looked lost on the mound at others. After making the All-Star team and being one of baseball’s best relievers in the first half, he’s been a totally different pitcher after the All-Star break, and currently leads all of baseball in blown saves.

However, baseball tends to be a game of “what have you done for me lately?”, and it’ll be important for the young closer to end the season on a positive note. One thing that doesn’t hurt at all is having Russell Martin back behind the plate, as he returned earlier this week from a lengthy stint on the disabled list.

In Martin’s absence, the Blue Jays have used Raffy Lopez, Miguel Montero, Luke Maile, and Mike Ohlman behind the dish, and it hasn’t gone very well. Maile is a solid defensive catcher, but Montero has greatly struggled, and Lopez hasn’t been all that great either. Mike Ohlman had just a short cameo with the club, getting just 13 at bats.

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During the time that Martin was on the disabled list, Roberto Osuna struggled immensely. His ERA was 5.23 in 10.1 innings (from Aug 11 to Sept 12), and his stretch of tough outings pushed him into sole possession of the blown saves category. On Friday night though, the Mexican born righty had a 1-2-3 inning with Martin behind the plate, and they were happy to be reunited with their post save ritual.

If you eliminate the lost time for Martin from Osuna’s numbers, things drop down to a 3.33 ERA, with an opponent’s average of .200. His struggles aren’t exclusive to just that stretch by any means, but it does make ya wonder how big of an impact Martin makes on defence, especially for the young flame thrower.

The Canadian catcher was signed in 2015 to help stabilize and guide a young pitching staff, and he’s done just that. It’s pretty tough to deny that he’s been an important cog in developing guys like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and yes, Osuna as well.

And after watching Osuna working with him last night, I’m more convinced than ever that he’s something special as a game caller. That’s not to suggest that Osuna or any of the other young pitchers wouldn’t have had MLB success without him, but it’s definitely been a big plus for the younger arms, and even some veterans as well.

The 34 year old receiver could have sat out for the remainder of the season, as there are only a few weeks left to play. Instead, he worked hard at getting back, leading by example and providing a reinforcement at time the team could use it. And if his presence helps Osuna finish out the year on a positive note, all the more reason to be thankful Martin is suiting up. That’s what a leader does, and that’s what the Blue Jays are paying for. Good on ’em.

Next: Danny Jansen climbed the catching depth chart in 2017