Jays From the Couch presents some news & notes on the Toronto Blue Jays, including J.P. Howell, Dalton Pompey, Russell Martin and Roberto Osuna
The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves 5 games back of the Wild Card after another frustrating loss, one that completed a sweep courtesy of the Chicago Cubs. It seems that they continue to find new ways to lose games, which is very 2017 of them. Despite being “in” every game this series, they just couldn’t seem to find a way to win. What follows is a collection of observations on news, storylines, etc from the last little while.
Rather than attempt to force a few ideas into long winded, wasteful posts of their own, Jays From the Couch presents a collection of observations on recent events and situations involving the Toronto Blue Jays.
There have been some rumblings about closer, Roberto Osuna and his struggles. With the team’s season going the way it has, it makes some sense that folks would focus on the now eight blown saves, rather than the 32 saves he’s collected. Never mind that he’s been worth 2.6 fWAR, which is his career best mark.
Velocity has a lot to do with the concerns people have. According to Fangraphs, Osuna has lost an average of 1.5 mph on his fastball, nearly 2 mph on his cutter and over a mile per hour on his slider.
Roberto Osuna's avg 4-S fastball velocity last season was 96.4 mph. He's thrown just 13 pitches that hard this season (avg 94.7). #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) August 21, 2017
As well as the velocity issue, some are concerned with his usage.
Might be worth noting that after a rare visit to the mound by Gibbons, Osuna threw three consecutive fastballs. #BlueJays
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) August 20, 2017
Osuna is using his fastball about 20% less often this year. He’s leaning on his cutter well over 21% more often. This increased usage is an interesting choice, but could signal the departure from the effectiveness we’re used to. That said, Fangraphs has his cutter worth 4.4 runs above average. His fastball has dropped all the way down to 0.9 runs above average, a far cry from its 2016 value of 8.9. So, yeah. He might want to get back to the heater.
Whether recent struggles are due to injury, fatigue, or some other mystery, it is important to remember the following from Ben Kaspick: “Entering today [Aug 6, 2017], the league had a .211 expected wOBA against Osuna, good for third-best in baseball against among relievers with a minimum of 50 at-bats against them. His recent struggles aside, Osuna remains one of the highest upside relievers in baseball and could remain so for a long time, as he’s just 22 years old.”
What in the world does the future hold for Dalton Pompey? Earlier, our Ryan Mueller wrote about Anthony Alford and his likely return to Toronto in September. The 23 year old Alford is healthy and knocking on the door. With Alford, Dwight Smith Jr and newly acquired Teoscar Hernandez joining a fairly crowded outfield group, one has to wonder if Pompey has slide too far down the depth charts.
The 24 yr old Canadian is currently on the 60 Day DL after a concussion, which he looked to be coming around from, but then had to cut his rehab outing short after his knee became an issue. We used to be able to say that Pompey’s play was the reason he wasn’t sticking with the big league club. Now, it is one injury after another that is keeping him from gaining any momentum, leaving his future in question.
Now, the Blue Jays will have choices to make that could end up making the outfield picture a little more clear. Nori Aoki very well could be non-tendered this winter and the elephant in the room is that Jose Bautista may not have his option picked up by the Blue Jays. He could return on a different deal, but as things are right now, his return is a long shot. So, there is some wiggle room for Pompey, if he can get his body back on his side.
J.P. Howell has been released by the Blue Jays. After designating him for assignment on August 16, the club has let him go. Of course, this does not mean that he won’t be back with the organization as they could sign him to a minor league deal. Howell was originally signed this past offseason for $3M and was supposed to be a lefty out of the ‘pen that helped at the back end of the bullpen.
It didn’t work out that way. Injury played a part in his year, but when he did pitch, Howell gave the Blue Jays 11 innings of work and a 6.32 FIP and a WHIP of 1.818. Now, some will criticize the front office for signing him in the first place, but at the time, it looked like a solid bullpen depth move. Combining Howell and Joe Smith looked to be a rather shrewd bit of work. Unfortunately, it did not work as Howell found himself on the DL.
Russell Martin is on the DL with an injury to a part of his body that most of us will never even think about, since we have so much insulation around it: the oblique. This type of injury can be tricky, as many an athlete has battled with trying to come back. When you think you’re recovered, game action can remind you that you need a bit more time.
It is for that reason that the initial word of Martin hitting the 10 Day DL was a bit of a misnomer. Logically, we should have been expecting more time on the DL. So, when Rob Longley (of the Toronto Sun) tweets the following, we should resist the urge to fly off the handle:
Russell Martin won't be back with #Jays any time soon. He's gone to Florida for some rehab work.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) August 19, 2017
Let’s set aside the logic of 10 days being a rather short recovery time. If a player goes to Florida for “rehab work”, it doesn’t really provide much in the way of news, does it? It could mean just about anything. It isn’t a rehab assignment, so it doesn’t signal a return to the lineup is forthcoming. But, it also doesn’t add to the timeline of the player being out. For all we know, Martin was going to be out for a while, but the club used the 10 Day DL to adjust their roster.
Which, Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to do. The MLBPA and MLB are going to have a chat over the 10 day-er, you can bet.
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