Blue Jays: Ranking the top 10 relief pitchers in the AL East in 2023

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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9: Anthony Bass, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays traded for Anthony Bass at last year's trade deadline for his second stint with the club and he was outstanding. In 2022 with Toronto and Miami, Bass posted a 1.54 ERA over 70.1 innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.009 and almost 10 strikeouts per nine in his 25.2 innings with the Jays. At 35-years-old, you'd often expect a decline to come soon, but it feels like Bass might be in his prime right now. His skillset should age well, as he doesn't rely on velocity, with his primary pitch being his slider, which he used over 50% of the time. A sinker, fourseamer and very occasionally a splitter round out his arsenal. While he doesn't rely on velocity, his fastball is actually in the 77th percentile in that regard, so it's there should he need it.

2022 was a bit of a revelation for Bass, as his only full season with a sub-three ERA since his rookie year in 2011, and was the most innings he'd pitched as a reliever in his career. Random 30-something-year-olds will often have great seasons out of nowhere and then just fall off the map, but there's reason to believe that this wasn't a fluke from Bass. For starters, his statcast numbers, which can be excellent for projecting future success, are all really solid. He's sitting comfortably in the 70s and 80s for percentiles in most categories, which isn't out of this world but is an encouraging sign. The eye tests is pretty good too, with good mechanics leading to consistent location and movement on his pitches in 2022.

Playing in both the NL and AL East last season, divisions loaded with offensive talent, Bass more than held his own, putting up a 263 ERA+, and proved to be a great setup man for the Blue Jays down the stretch. 2022 being a relative outlier for him and his age keep him from going any higher on this list, but if he's even 70% of the pitcher he was last year in 2023, Toronto's got a good one.