Since arriving from the New York Mets earlier this season, Wilmer Font has been a different pitcher with the Blue Jays and has turned his season around.
More likely than not, that was the reaction many had any time they scrolled past a “Blue Jays claim/trade for (insert pitcher name here)” alert. The Blue Jays have shown a detailed plan for their batting lineup, calling up prospect after prospect, but when it comes to their rotation and bullpen, it seems the team has been throwing darts at the wall and hoping that one sticks.
The reality of the matter is that most darts are not going to stick, but baseball is a game of percentages and if 100 darts are thrown, eventually a few are going to stick. Wilmer Font is looking like one of those darts that may very well just stick.
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Since being traded from the New York Mets on July 17, Font has quietly strung together a handful of quality performances. Over his last four appearances, two of them as the opener, the 29-year old pitcher has allowed just one earned run and struck out 11 over 9.1 innings.
While Font has pitched just 12.1 innings in a Blue Jays’ uniform, his performance on the mound has been night and day from his earlier stints this season with the Mets and Tampa Bay Rays.
Let’s break it down by team:
With the Rays: 5.79 ERA
With the Mets: 4.94 ERA
With the Blue Jays: 2.92 ERA
It seems that Font has really hit the ground running since landing with the Blue Jays. After allowing three earned runs in his first two appearances, Font has settled down, pitching to the tune of a 0.96 ERA since July 27th. The journeyman pitcher has also shown incredible poise as he has risen to every challenge the Blue Jays have thrown at him, as the team has utilized him as both a bullpen arm and as an opener.
By limiting the walks and the long ball, Font has managed to transform himself from just another run on the mill bullpen piece to a reliable arm.
HR/9 and BB/9 by team
Rays: 1.29 HR/9, 3.21 BB/9
Mets: 2.32 HR/9, 3.77 BB/9
Blue Jays: 0.73 HR/9, 0.73 BB/9
All teams value the same qualities in a bullpen pitcher; they must be able to strikeout batters at will, have great command of the strike zone and limit the long ball. Font has checked off all those boxes as he has walked one batter while also giving up just one home run over his six appearances as a Blue Jay.
Now that you have made it this far, you must be wondering what is the catch? How has a pitcher with a career ERA of 5.65 managed to look reasonably good with the Blue Jays? Has luck played a part? Well, truth be told, luck has played a part, but not in the way that many expect.
Believe it or not, Font has actually been unlucky. His FIP since joining the Blue Jays is currently 2.16, lower than his 2.92 ERA and his batting average on balls in play is currently .333, which is a lot higher than his career BABIP of .278.
While the front office continues to spin the wheels on numerous pitchers through waivers and trade acquisitions , it looks like they may have found a pleasant surprise in the 29-year old Wilmer Font.