After a successful two-game weekend sweep of the New York Mets in Montreal to close out Spring Training, the Toronto Blue Jays appeared ready to begin playing for keeps. The 25-man roster was set, the starting rotation didn’t look too bad after all, and things were falling into place … that is, until the front office dropped the news that the Jays will be forced to begin their 2014 campaign without one of their most reliable assets.
Casey Janssen will start the 2014 regular season on the 15-day DL rather than closing out games for the Jays. Although this looks to be a massive blow to the Jays’ chances of securing wins in the ninth inning, the fact that their bullpen looks to be rock solid will help them immensely.
Sergio Santos is the front-runner to take over for Janssen, and now is the perfect time for the fireballer to prove to everyone why the Jays acquired him in the first place. Santos came to Toronto a couple of years back thinking he would be the closer until Janssen played his way into the role. The time is now for Santos to prove that he can indeed be dominant for the Jays down the stretch and late in games.
Santos only managed to pitch a total of 5.0 innings this spring, racking up three strikeouts and earning a WHIP of o.40. He did give up a home run during one of those five innings, but his overall command was impressive compared to what he has shown with the Jays in the past. Whether Santos stays a member of the Jays in the future or not, the time is now if he wants to prove his current organization and beyond whether or not he should be the go-to guy in the ninth inning.
Believe it or not, a player’s motivation rather than past history can tell the tell the tale of whether or not they are ready to take the next step in their career. This is what Santos will be banking on as he is asked to close out games in the absence of Janssen for at least the first couple of weeks of the 2014 season. I expect Santos to take this opportunity and run with it.
It’s not a question of whether or not he possesses the talent. It’s a question of whether or not he can execute exactly what he knows he can do in the role. The Jays will survive without Janssen.