The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays bullpen situation very well could offer Chris Smith his first taste of big league action
We’ve suffered through a winter that hadn’t really addressed the bullpen and left us with a large elephant in the room. Recently, the Toronto Blue Jays rid themselves of said elephant by signing J.P. Howell and Joe Smith to provide some much needed presence. That left the club with just a couple of spots to be filled by numerous options. Suddenly, the bullpen looks solid, with several options to fill very few spots.
However, in order to get through a season, big league clubs will rely on more than just the 7 (or 8) who reside beyond the outfield wall to start the season. No, they’ll likely go through many, many more relievers. To that end, we can expect to see some of those relievers who are in the mix for jobs this spring, but don’t make the squad out of the gate. We can expect to see those we haven’t been paying attention to; those who may surprise. With that in mind, the Blue Jays have a reliever in Chris Smith, who just might fit into their 2017 season, giving him hsi first taste of big league action.
On Friday, Shi Davidi held a Ask Me Anything session on Reddit and dropped the idea that Smith very well could break out this season:
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 10, 2017
Now Shi mentions that players are intrigued by Smith, but one has to wonder if management doesn’t love the velocity as well.
|2011||3 Teams||2 Lgs||Ind||4||2||3.64||4.55||13||1||59.1||46||24||4||23||54||1.163|
|2014||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-A||NYY||1||2||2.98||3.68||32||10||1||51.1||45||17||5||14||49||1.149|
|2015||4 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||NYY-TOR||4||2||2.05||2.05||31||13||52.2||31||12||1||9||57||0.759|
|2016||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||TOR||1||3||1.93||3.12||47||30||15||60.2||46||13||3||22||81||1.121|
Smith’s story is an interesting one; one you can easily get behind. He went undrafted and started his career in the Frontier League. The Yankees ended up signing him, but releasing him, after a bit of confusion. Writing for the Canadian Baseball Netowrk, Alexis Brudnicki explains his experience as a Yankee:
…the Yankees realized they had made too many cuts. They didn’t have enough bodies to fill out their teams. They re-signed Smith, who was happy to have a job again, but when they sent him to join one of their GCL squads at extended spring training, no one had been informed he was returning. He had no place to go and nowhere to belong.
Brudnicki explains that Smith was so happy to be affiliated with a major league team, he showed up and worked his butt off doing drills until someone had to tell him to stop. It is that hard work and commitment that took him to Australia and back again. All the while, Smith was adding velocity to his fastball to the point where he’s routinely at 95 mph and turning some heads.
The Blue Jays took a chance on him in 2015 and he’s performed rather well. Last season, he tossed 60 innings, collecting 15 saves, finishing 30 games, striking out 81 and walking just 22 for a WHIP of 1.121.In those 60 innings, he gave up just 13 earned runs. In his 3.2 innings at AAA, Buffalo, he left 100% of runners on base. In AA, New Hampshire, he left nearly 73% on.
Perhaps, the Blue Jays bullpen will be filled with Gavin Floyd, Mike Bolsinger or even Aaron Loup. For the club, the good news is that there are plenty of options. The fact that Chris Smith is one of them is good news for him. His story is one of hard work and determination. In 2017, whether in April, or later in the season, all of his hard work very well could pay off. The 28 yr old could see his first taste of big league action.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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