Oftentimes MLB fans overlook the impact of excellent relievers but, the Toronto Blue Jays are not making that mistake as they have agreed to bring Darren Oliver back for his 20th MLB season. In 2012 there weren’t too many relievers that were better than Oliver as he posted a 2.06 ERA in his first year as a Blue Jay. In addition, Oliver has struck fear into opposing hitters for the last six seasons and has resurrected his career in the process.
Since 2007 with the Los Angeles Angels Oliver has not had an ERA above 3.00 for a single season. Instead, he has pitched in 55 plus games in each of the last six seasons and has appeared un-hittable at times.
Toronto definitely has had an offseason to remember as the acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and R.A Dickey will put the Blue Jays atop almost all of the preseason predictions. It’s hard for me to come right out and declare this team the best in that division simply because of the lack of playoff experience on this team in particular. However, if veterans like Oliver can produce in crunch time they will give a strong kick to teetering teams like the Boston Red Sox.
Speaking of which, I believe the Red Sox impacted the Blue Jays decision to bring back Oliver for a second season. The Sox made the move to bring in shut-down closer Joel Hanrahan in December to sure up a bullpen that led to a 69-93 record in 2012. No question the Blue Jays are keeping tabs on what the Sox are doing and improving accordingly so.
Nonetheless, this move should not go unnoticed as Oliver plays a big part in this clubs pitching staff.