The Blue Jays wanted to focus on building up their bullpen strength over the winter. So who will fans see emerging to pale comparisons of Hell’s Bells?
The primary goal of the 2015-16 off-season was a simple one in the eyes of Blue Jays fans. Pitching. Get some. Get as much as possible. Especially for a bullpen that was unable to hold the Royals in check during the playoffs. The front office responded…in a way. As the market for relievers blew up in unforeseen ways (Hello John Axford! Enjoying that $5M per?), the Blue Jays hung back by the discount bin, scooping up some leftover arms. It was a prudent approach by the front office, but a fan base hankering for more fall baseball wasn’t satisfied until Drew Storen was brought in.
So after all the shuffling, who can Blue Jays fans expect to emerge out of the bullpen and into the hearts? Guys who will fulfill the roles of immortal men like Paul Quantrill, Dan Plesac and Shawn Camp? We won’t know for sure until the moving vans leave Dunedin, but speculation runs rampant. To help sort through the logjam of names, Jays From the Couch presents a top down list of the favorites with convenient betting odds, ranking their chances of starting the season with the big club.
Disclaimer: Jays From the Couch does not promote sports betting. Anyone using this article to bet should just send the author the money instead.
Brett Cecil, Drew Storen, Roberto Osuna
CURRENT ODDS: N/A (No bets taken, considered locks)
This is the three-headed relief monster locked in place for the Blue Jays. The debate over who is the official closer between Storen and Osuna is one that will eventually be moot. As the incumbent, Osuna has the best chance of retaining that role, but Storen is better equipped and has a stronger track record from his time in Washington. In addition, if Osuna wants to prove he has the arsenal worthy of starting duties in future rotations, he’s better off developing his additional pitches in lower leverage situations and letting Storen bring the heat in the save situations.
PROP BETS: “Goggles” Cecil gets sponsored by a eyewear company at some point during the season: 80-1
Storen breaks his hand punching a Bell pay phone: 5000-1
CURRENT ODDS: 1-4
In the catbird seat for the second lefty slot, Loup would need a disastrous spring performance to lose his spot in the bullpen. It’s not completely out of the question given Loup’s 2015 regression to the mean last season. However, underlying statistics such as a 2.6K/9 jump and an abnormally high .339 BABIP that inflated his ERA to 4.46 indicate a season not to Loup’s true standards. With the improved defense behind him, Loup should have a bounce back season and justify his spot.
PROP BET: Loup finally ditches Brantley Gilbert walk-in music for J-pop singer Kotoko’s “Loop-the-Loop“: 6500-1
CURRENT ODDS: 3-2
Sanchez really wants to start this season. So much so he spent the off-season adding 20 pounds of muscle onto his frame. However, it still may not be enough to earn him the rotation spot he craves. While fending off Drew Hutchison may not be difficult given his 2015 season, Jesse Chavez is the favorite to claim the fifth spot in the rotation, given the two years and 47 starts he put in while with Oakland. It dwarfs Sanchez’s 11 total starts, even if Sanchez was turning the corner before his injury. Given Sanchez has more value to the 2016 Blue Jays appearing every two days instead of every fifth day, he could make the bullpen a squadron to rival the Yankees and Royals.
PROP BETS: Sanchez starts a game this season for the Blue Jays: 3-1
Sanchez finishes 10 games this season for the Blue Jays: 10-1
Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz
CURRENT ODDS: 2-1
Both holdovers from 2015’s bullpen are playing defense for their slots and are the most vulnerable to any arms emerging from the Dunedin session. The think working against both right-handers is the same thing that kept Chad Jenkins yo-yoing to Buffalo all these years: options. Schultz was added to Arizona’s following the 2013 season, Tepera to the Blue Jays after 2014. Both have plenty of tickets left on the QEW Express while some of the other arms in contention do not. Given their respective ceilings, if it comes to one pitcher vs. the other, Tepera has the edge. His addition to the ALCS roster over Schultz bears that out.
PROP BET: Schultz is arrested in New York after elbowing a passenger in the head to steal their Lyft: 3000-1
Nothing says “Welcome to NYC” like someone stealing your Lyft and giving you the finger. I need to up my transit game. #roughinthestreets
— Bo Schultz (@SchultzBo) February 8, 2016
CURRENT ODDS: 3-1
Floyd was the surprise late addition of the off-season, signing with the Blue Jays earlier this month. Even more surprising was the guaranteed major league contract, worth $1M but doubling if he hits all the incentives. So why are the odds on Floyd higher than Tepera and Schultz? Injuries. Tommy John surgery in 2013 and a nasty elbow injury in 2014 that relapsed in March 2015 destroyed the previously reliable righty. Floyd pitched just 13.1 innings for Cleveland last season, all in relief. He was effective, sporting a 2.70 ERA for that September work. It was that performance that led to this gamble. There are rumbles that Floyd is in the starter conversation as well, but given the elbow problems, he’s the longest shot for that role.
PROP BET: Floyd pitches as many innings for the Blue Jays as fellow ex-White Sox pitcher Mike Sirotka: 50-1
Steve Delabar, Joe Biagini, Pat Venditte
CURRENT ODDS: 6:1
The three arms available who the Blue Jays will have to make decisions on this spring. Delabar’s options have finally run out, while Biagini will need to be offered back to the Giants if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster and stick there for the season. The switch-pitching Venditte is the most likely of this trio to make the team though, if only for his versatility at the back of the pen. Delabar will likely be traded if he’s not called into the Blue Jays bullpen, while Toronto may be able to work out a deal to keep Biagini, since his 2015 was the first sign he gave that he could succeed at the MLB level (2.42 ERA at AA Richmond brought his career ERA down to 4.06).
PROP BET: Venditte fakes an injury to a hand so he can switch sides mid-batter, the only way he’s allowed to do that under the “Venditte Rule”: 150-1
Arnold Leon, Chad Girodo, Roberto Hernandez
CURRENT ODDS: 12-1
Leon is still on the 40-man roster but his relative inexperience and those sweet, sweet option years knock his chances down. He’ll be the likely yo-yo relief candidate should Tepera and Schultz make the team outright. Girodo and Hernandez have the two best chances of anyone not on the 40-man of getting a contract purchased. Hernandez was an unspectacular swingman for the Astros last year but the former Fausto Carmona can eat innings if need be. Girodo has an outside chance, a la Osuna and Miguel Castro, to make the team as the third pure lefty option. However, with so many options ahead of him, Girodo is tipped to spend the season in Buffalo. He’ll perfect his craft and be ready should the unthinkable again happen to the Blue Jays and they need a left-hander come desperate times.
PROP BET: Hernandez steals Leon’s passport and identity so he can get those option trips back up to the big leagues: 3000-1
Ben Rowen, Brady Dragmire, Blake McFarland
CURRENT ODDS: 30-1
All three of these young men have promising futures ahead of them, be it from Rowen’s submarine delivery, McFarland’s artisan control or Dragmire’s tempo control. However, they aren’t candidates for Toronto’s bullpen out of Spring Training. They’ll have to prove themselves quickly, or it’ll be their spots offered up to the likes of Girodo and Hernandez.
PROP BET: McFarland crafts a blue jay out of recycled tires for the club next off-season: 200-1
Brad Penny, Chad Jenkins, David Aardsma, Daniel Schlereth
CURRENT ODDS: 100-1
Sorry to have to move Jenkins down with this group, but his DFA earlier this month signified he is not in the Blue Jays plans now that he can’t go back and forth like a Christmas dinner argument anymore. Aardsma may have the best chance of the four if he can prove he’s got more left in the tank after 33 appearances with Atlanta last season with a 10.3 K/9. Plus his Twitter game is on point.
— David Aardsma (@TheDA53) February 22, 2016
Penny and Schlereth are here to fill out Spring Training, with Penny likely to leave the team if he doesn’t catch on.
PROP BET: Jenkins gets into a fight with Hernandez over Leon’s identity and option eligibility: 5000-1
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: KEITH ALLISON UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Andrews has been immersed in sports from a young age, since they could read Jr. Jays comics that filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. The Canadian has been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well on the Tailpipe Sports blog. The 20-something has been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute while forging a career in the sports journalism industry. Andrews brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! briefly rethink letting Canadians onto their program.