Jays From the Couch brings you the 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Player Highlights & Lowlights. This time: Joaquin Benoit.
The arrival of Joaquin Benoit to the Toronto Blue Jays was heralded at the time when relief pitching was struggling and the need for an arm to provide shut down innings a must if the post season was to be attainable. Enter Benoit, and some blue Jays fans sighed in relief that this area that truly needed improvement was being added to. Coming in on July 26, 2016 from the Seattle Mariners for Drew Storen and cash, the right-handed pitcher held the title for the longest save in MLB history – seven innings – in 2002 while with the Texas Rangers. There was hope by both fans the Blue Jays front office that he’d be able to plug the hole in the relief lineup.
Benoit had pretty decent numbers with the Blue Jays. In his just over 23 innings pitched he had an impressive .38 ERA in his 25 appearances. A right-handed pitcher who features three pitches, he used his fourseam fastball most often – almost 50% of the time – which has a slightly higher velocity than most, and coupled it with his slider and split. Though his sinker did make an appearance in September, albeit only once, it hasn’t been a very successful pitch for Benoit, and the idea he would use it more in the future doesn’t seem feasible without putting in some work.
Benoit did reach a milestone while with the Jays this season. September 4 while pitching relief for the Blue Jays, he struck out the 1000th batter of his career, Evan Langoria. He also had the fourth-longest scoreless streak – 16 1/3 innings – 15 1/3 of those as a Blue Jay.
Performance-wise, Benoit did what he was supposed to do in the Blue Jays bullpen. His stats since being acquired show that. It was hard however, to see him give up that three-run homer to Big Papi, David Ortiz, on September 11, leading the Boston Red Sox to win and increase their lead in the AL East.
This all came to a screeching halt when Benoit was injured running out of the bullpen to help out his teammates, who were in a brawl with the New York Yankees on September 26. Needless to say he wasn’t any help, sustaining his injury before making it to the melee. He did seem to throw his teammates under the bus during the days that followed the brawl, saying hitters sometimes take things too personally. This wouldn’t have gone over well with Josh Donaldson, who is usually the target of hits by pitchers – eight this season – or John Gibbons who was very well aware his MVP was targeted multiple times.
Benoit is a free agent looking for a team for the 2017 season, and though he did provide some stability in Toronto’s bullpen, the likelihood he will return is still unknown. With the Blue Jays extending offers to both Jason Grilli and Brett Cecil, Benoit just might not be on the priority list this offseason, and his numbers are certainly replaceable in the market. With no movement towards his camp, there most likely won’t be a Benoit return…unless someone brings up a hometown discount of course.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0– cropped from original
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