For all the talk that there used to be about moving Roberto Osuna to the rotation, he’s proven over and over again that being a closer is where he belongs.
It takes a certain pedigree to pitch as a big league closer, and Roberto Osuna has had that since day one. For the now 23 year old, that started at the ripe old age of 20 when he saved 20 games for the playoff bound Jays of 2015 and posted a 2.58 ERA as a rookie.
He’s had his ups and downs as any big leaguer might, but the Mexican fireballer has been a real gem for the Blue Jays, entering Tuesday’s game with a career 2.79 ERA and 99 saves.
If you were watching the game last night or checking out the highlights reel today, you’ll know that Osuna picked up save number 100 of his career, becoming the youngest pitcher to ever achieve the feat. The honour used to belong to Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, but Osuna has laid his claim to the fastest quicker to hit the century mark.
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There was a time in his young career that many thought he should make the transition to the rotation, theoretically maximizing his value by getting him closer to 200 innings than the 60-80 he would throw in the bullpen. He likely had/has the arsenal to be a starter as well, showing the ability to throw as many as five pitches as a professional. However, he’s been the rare breed that wanted to stay in the bullpen, preferring to stay in his role as the arm tasked with finishing off games.
Selfishly, Osuna could have pursued a move to the rotation to maximize his earnings as well, but he’s always been comfortable in the role he earned part way through his rookie season, and has resisted the idea when asked about it in the past. The discussion and debate went on as recently as last offseason, with this winter being the first time that Blue Jays writers and fans seemed to accept that he was a closer for good.
Obviously the results speak for themselves, and after picking up his fifth save in as many chances and maintaining his 0.00 ERA, he’s off to another good start in 2018. He managed some bumps along the road last year and finished the season strong, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be anything less than above average in the role this year.
Maybe he could have been a great starter in the big leagues, but chances are we’ll never know, and that’s just fine with the one that matters most, Osuna himself. Now that the debate is finally over and the right-hander continues to thrive in the role, one has to wonder how many saves he could compile over the course of his career.
Maybe the stat doesn’t have the same level of importance that it once did, but it’s something Osuna loves to do, and does it well. As Blue Jays fans, we should be thankful for that.