In 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays‘ bullpen performed at a high level. It was a strength that was expected to be carried to 2014, but the bullpen’s start to the year has been anything but strong. The missing piece of Casey Janssen now looms larger than ever.
Is it the case of too much wear and tear? Regardless of the reason, the suspect performances from the relief corps has resulted in the Jays removing Sergio Santos as team closer, opting to go with the “closer by committee” approach.
Overall, there are plenty of decisions to make regarding the season’s beginning, but one would be hard-pressed to disagree with stripping Santos of the ninth-inning job. Nine walks in 9.1 innings pitched combined with three heart-wrenching jacks given up in pressure-packed situations will have that effect on an organization.
However, Santos is not the only violator of trust. The likes of Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup, Todd Redmond and even the rock-steady Brett Cecil can all be charged with criminal mischief in relief. As for Esmil Rogers, he has been held in contempt from the outset.
Janssen is inching his way back to make his long-awaited debut, and it can’t come soon enough. An SOS flag is being raised rapidly. The best-case scenario would have him suiting up in mid-May, but Jays supporters have been led to believe a return was imminent before. As always, they are at the franchise’s mercy.
He not only offers the much-needed security blanket in the ninth (56 saves in his last 61 opportunities), but he also solidifies the bullpen’s pecking order. With 24 walks in his last 117 innings pitched, back-to-back sub .200 BAA seasons, two straight years of a sub-1.00 WHIP and three consecutive campaigns with a 8.5-plus K/9, the search and rescue mission for the bullpen will not end until Janssen is back on the hill.