On The Fringe of Forty- Jays From the Couch brings you a series looking at players not on the Toronto Blue Jays 40 man roster. Meet John Stilson.
John Stilson has a story. He’s the Texas A&M pitcher who threw out his shoulder on the mound and kept on pitching. He went on to finish five scoreless innings despite the pain. It’s this kind of grit that has the Blue Jays hoping he will come back from surgery on a torn labrum to post some of the numbers he was capable of for the Blue Jays organization. With all the talk of bullpen woes and lost win possibilities, this could be good news for the still struggling pen -maybe a pen starting to show signs of life – of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Thought to be a rotation candidate, Stilson was a closer with Texas A&M, posting impressive numbers in 2010, with a 0.80 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 79 innings pitched.
Originally from Texarkana, Texas, Stilson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins out of Texarkana College but did not sign. He chose to transfer to Texas A&M instead. It was there that he led the nation in 2010 with an ERA of 0.80 as a relief pitcher. He did however move to the starting rotation in 2011, where he had posted numbers of 1.68 ERA with 92 strikeouts before the injury to his shoulder sidelined him for the rest of the season. Surgery was not done at that time in favour of rehabilitation.
This only proved to put off the inevitable, as Stilson did indeed require the surgery in 2014. He is currently playing with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and so far his season has seen a 1.32 ERA in 11 games played. He’s pitched 13.2 innings with 10 strikeouts. His biggest challenge now? Staying healthy. Ryan Mueller wrote about this very issue for Jays From the Couch in April, asking the question Is Blue Jays John Stilson Finally Healthy?
John Stilson is imposing on the mound. He stands 6’3″ with a weight of 205lbs, his pitches thrown at a downward angle, but it’s his delivery that has some cause for concern. He throws with quite the violent arm action, making injuries a real possibility. It seems this is over shadowed by his high 90’s fastball, a speed destined to be seen more frequently working in the ‘pen as opposed to in the rotation. That coupled with his circle change which has been called exceptional, he has the ability to fool batters as his circle change has the same arm action as his fastball.
Stilson comes with a biting breaking ball but it needs to be worked on further to get rid of the tell he has been seen pitching with. He falls off to the first base side of the mound. The good news is, even with this tell, he has had considerable success with it in the swing and miss category.
The fact is, the Jays will be trying to improve their bullpen situation, whether that’s adding new arms or working with the existing set hoping for improvement as the season progresses. If John Stilson can keep his momentum going and continue to post numbers the Jays want to see, then he definitely won’t be on the fringe of forty for too long.
*Featured Image Credit: Kris Robinson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.