Blue Jays pitcher faced the Astros, then never saw MLB again

DETROIT, MI - JULY 15: Mike Bolsinger
DETROIT, MI - JULY 15: Mike Bolsinger /

Looking back at some data from the 2017 season, one unfortunate Blue Jays pitcher faced the Houston Astros and then never appeared in the big leagues again.

The biggest story of the MLB off-season was easily the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, and even if you’re getting tired of hearing about it, it’s probably not going away any time soon.

To that end, there was a new development that circulated on social media on Wednesday thanks to the work of a website called I’ll let you all take a look at their extensive data (it’s pretty shocking), but to sum it up, they essentially went through the 2017 season and charted all of the “bangs” that were heard in Astros games. They provided lots of numbers, visual charts, and all kinds of fun stuff to chew on. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of their numbers, but I’m not about to defend the Astros either.

One of the notable things related to the Blue Jays takes us back to a game that I highlighted a few weeks back, pointing out the only series that they played in Houston during the 2017 season. There were several examples of “bangs” throughout all three games that summer, and the Astros had plenty of offence to show for their “efforts”.

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One of the things that I missed at the time was picked up by Twitter user @davidspampinato, and that was what happened to a Blue Jays pitcher after that series. I had gone down a rabbit hole when I was studying that series, looking to see the effect it may have had on Joe Biagini‘s career. However, I completely missed that during that series, one Blue Jays pitcher allowed four runs over 0.1 innings and was never seen in the big leagues again.

That’s the tale of the end of Mike Bolsinger‘s MLB career, and exactly the type of thing that many veteran big leaguers have been mad about with this whole scandal. Bolsinger was always a fringe big leaguer, but it’s hard not to view that game as the final nail in the coffin of his career in North America, and that’s a tough pill to swallow even if it might have happened another day anyway. Another user, @MLBRandomStats pointed out that the data shows there were “bangs” on 12 of the 29 pitches that Bolsinger threw that day.

For those that are unfamiliar with how the Astros’ scheme worked, a “bang” usually meant that an off-speed pitch was coming, and they didn’t make any noise when a fastball was on the way. Looking at this data, they likely knew almost every pitch that Bolsinger threw that day before it left his hand, and the poor guy never really had a chance against Houston’s loaded lineup. He’s also pretty reliant on his breaking ball, which lines up with there being a “bang” on 41% of his pitches.

From there Bolsinger finished the season in Triple-A and actually performed very well, pitching to a 1.70 ERA in Triple-A in 2017, covering 47.2 innings. However, it wasn’t enough for him to get another look in the big leagues, and he signed a contract to pitch in Japan that off-season. He was the type of pitcher who could have bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A anyway, but that’s also why each MLB appearance was so important. You only get so many opportunities.

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If you’ve listened to players from around the league talk about this whole scandal, the impact on player’s careers might be the biggest sore spot, maybe even as much or more than the Astros’ 2017 championship. Bolsinger is an example of exactly what they’re talking about, and while it has to be frustrating to look back at, hopefully fate took him to the right place in the end anyway.