Welcome back from the land of the dead, Jeremy Jeffress … or at least the DFA’d, anyway.
Don’t remember the righty? It’s okay, really. After all, the Toronto Blue Jays unceremoniously moved him to the discard pile after just a single one-inning outing back in the beginning of April, and it was expected that his tenure north of the border would be best remembered as the team taking a stab with some cash considerations and not finding what they’re looking for.
Actually, by most predictions, Jeffress isn’t even supposed to be with Toronto by now.
A 26-year-old hard-thrower with a high-90s fastball, he was expected to be picked up off waivers by another team looking for a power-arm with a potentially fixable control problem. Well, it turns out that nobody bit, and the team was able to sneak him down to triple-A, where he dominated through 27.1 innings, posting a 1.65/1.28 ERA/WHIP with a .229 BAA and 9.22 K/9, even recording seven saves in the minors.
So, you could see why the Blue Jays’ interest may have been piqued once more.
Besides, September happened to be the perfect opportunity to Jeffress to resurrect his hopes at a MLB roster spot — and not just because the rosters expanded. The Blue Jays had innings to go around, given that they had to be careful about All-Star reliever Steve Delabar‘s post-DL workload. Meanwhile, the other participant from the bullpen in the Midsummer Classic, Brett Cecil, had been shut down for the season.
In fact, Jeffress’ latest outing came to be because he had to replace an injured Kyle Drabek, who was struck by a comebacker, so …
All of which is to say that he’s been given his share of opportunities this month, and he’s made the best of them. In eight September outings (7.1 IP), the right-hander has allowed no runs, and has struck out nine batters. That part of his game isn’t really so surprising, but what has been unexpected is that he’s walked just three batters scattered over three outings.
For a guy who has a 6.70 BB/9 over 47 big league innings thus far, I think you could probably call that a major development.
Still, where does he go from here with the Blue Jays? Fans have known about GM Alex Anthopoulos‘ affinity for big power arms for some time, and the team could conceivably have a bullpen that includes the likes of Delabar, Sergio Santos and Jeffress — three strikeout artists. For that to happen, however, the team have to conceivably make room for it, even with Darren Oliver retiring.
Could Jeffress provide one more push for the team to deal from its bullpen depth in the offseason? At this point of his extended audition, he certainly hasn’t given the team many reasons to make him the odd man out again.