Génesis Cabrera went from a flyer with control issues to a pivotal part of the Blue Jays bullpen

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One
Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

When the Blue Jays acquired Génesis Cabrera from the St. Louis Cardinals they were expecting another lefty out of the pen, to give Tim Mayza less of a workload. With an ERA of 5.06 on the season, expectations weren't very high, but he became one of the most pleasant surprises.

Always possessing good stuff, Cabrera had never been able to locate his pitches effectively, evident by his 5.1 BB/9 with the Cardinals before they DFA'd him on July 18th. When the Jays traded minor league catcher Sammy Hernandez for him on the 21st, they were hoping Pete Walker would work his magic, and he did that and more.

With the Jays, Cabrera basically eliminated his changeup, electing more for a fastball/slider combination, with the end result being fewer strikeouts (only 7.9/9) but a lot fewer walks (only 6 in his 23.2 innings). When he came in to do his job (which was often getting a sole lefty, or retiring the final batter of an inning) Cabrera was effective more often than not, and as a plus, he does that cool thing where he turns his back to the batter when he gets them out.

Echoing the Blue Jays offence, Cabrera excelled at leaving runners on base, limiting opposing hitters to a .200 batting average with runners in scoring position, and .217 in high-leverage situations. It also didn't really matter what handedness the hitter was for Cabrera, as righties hit marginally better against him than lefties (.196 vs .195), but take a look at both of those numbers and you can see that there isn't really any cause for concern.

Like most of Toronto's pitching, Cabrera was effective in the Minnesota series, retiring both batters he faced via strikeout, and throwing 9 of his 12 pitches for strikes. In fact, if you count the playoff game Cabrera only allowed earned runs in four of his 30 games with the team. So while the track record in the past has shown that there might be some concern in terms of his consistency, he's done everything in his power to show that he's an important part of the bullpen and has earned high-leverage opportunities.

While the advanced numbers might not love some of his pitches, if he's able to continue to weaponize his mid-to-high 90s fastball and wicked slider he'll continue to be an important piece out of the 'pen. And just as importantly, give Tim Mayza the needed rest that he so badly needed at the beginning of the season.

In 2024 Cabrera will likely continue to be the Jays #2 lefty out of the 'pen. With Jordan Hicks likely gone he might see an uptick in usage, but with how much John Schneider loves using Mayza, he'll probably stick to facing lefties in the sixth or seventh inning, and getting that necessary out with runners on base.

As much as I'd love to give Cabrera an A, a couple of rough outings towards the end of the season and flashes of minor control issues dropped him down a grade, but overall, he remains one of the biggest successes for an otherwise dull season.

Grade: B+

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