At 100: A Retrospective of Roberto Osuna’s Early Career

Jays From the Couch takes a retrospective look at the young Blue Jays closer.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

At sixteen years old, Roberto Osuna was playing professional baseball. He spent just 19.2 inning in the Mexican League in 2011, playing against men that could be his father. The results weren’t great, but he managed to impress the Blue Jays scouts to signing him that year, and by the age of 17, when most American kids are backing their Mom’s Taurus into the mailbox, he made his affiliated debut with the Rookie-level Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League, more than 2,300 miles from his birthplace in Sinaloa, Mexico. Three and a half years younger than the average age at that level in American professional baseball.

 

His MiLB performance didn’t stick out – a 4.38 ERA over 109 innings – but the talent was obvious. Upper 90’s heater. A K/9 of 10.9. Experience throwing against much older players. But despite underwhelming stats and the loss of a year starting in June 2013 due to undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Osuna cruised through the Blue Jays’ minor league system. He completed the lowest three levels and the Arizona Fall League in just two seasons, skipping Double-A and Triple-A, impressing in 2015’s spring training, and making the roster in March.

 

Since that fateful February, he’s been even better. Improved in almost every aspect. Now, at just 23 years old, he’s a leader on the Blue Jays. A veteran. He’s the man at the back end of the bullpen, what every bridge through the bullpen has led to over the past three seasons.

 

Performance

Few players start in the majors as closers. After a couple month of mediocrity, Osuna was thrust into that role with the playoff-bound 2015 Blue Jays. His first career save came on June 22nd of that year, slamming the door on an 8-5 victory over the rival Rays. By the end of the year, he had amassed 20 saves, doing so with a small 2.71 ERA, striking out 75 in 69.2 innings.

 

Register Pitching
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg ERA RAvg G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 16 -12.9 Mexico MEX 5.49 6.86 13 2 3 0 0 0 19.2 25 15 12 3 11 12 1.831 11.4 1.4 5.0 5.5 1.09
2012 17 -4.3 Vancouver NORW 3.20 4.12 5 5 0 0 0 0 19.2 14 9 7 1 9 25 1.169 6.4 0.5 4.1 11.4 2.78
2012 17 -3.5 Bluefield APPY 1.50 1.88 7 4 0 0 0 0 24.0 18 5 4 1 6 24 1.000 6.8 0.4 2.3 9.0 4.00
2013 18 -3.8 Lansing MIDW 5.53 5.95 10 10 0 0 0 0 42.1 39 28 26 6 11 51 1.181 8.3 1.3 2.3 10.8 4.64
2014 19 -4.2 Dunedin FLOR 6.55 6.55 7 7 0 0 0 0 22.0 28 16 16 3 9 30 1.682 11.5 1.2 3.7 12.3 3.33
2014 19 -1.4 Blue Jays GULF 0.00 0.00 1 1 0 0 0 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.0 0.0 0.0 18.0
2014 19 -4.0 Mesa AZFL 9.49 9.49 6 0 0 0 0 0 12.1 22 13 13 2 4 15 2.108 16.1 1.5 2.9 10.9 3.75
2015 20 -8.3 TOR AL 2.58 2.71 68 0 39 0 0 20 69.2 48 21 20 7 16 75 0.919 6.2 0.9 2.1 9.7 4.69
2016 21 -7.6 TOR AL 2.68 2.80 72 0 61 0 0 36 74.0 55 23 22 9 14 82 0.932 6.7 1.1 1.7 10.0 5.86
2017 22 -6.6 TOR AL 3.38 3.66 66 0 58 0 0 39 64.0 46 26 24 3 9 83 0.859 6.5 0.4 1.3 11.7 9.22
2018 23 -6.2 TOR AL 0.00 0.00 5 0 5 0 0 4 5.1 2 0 0 0 0 3 0.375 3.4 0.0 0.0 5.1
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg ERA RAvg G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
MLB MLB MLB MLB 2.79 2.96 211 0 163 0 0 99 213.0 151 70 66 19 39 243 0.892 6.4 0.8 1.6 10.3 6.23
Mino Mino Mino Mino 4.38 4.79 30 27 0 0 0 0 109.0 99 58 53 11 35 132 1.229 8.2 0.9 2.9 10.9 3.77
All All All All 3.66 3.97 260 29 166 0 0 99 354.0 297 156 144 35 89 402 1.090 7.6 0.9 2.3 10.2 4.52
Rk ( Rk ( Rk ( Rk ( 1.44 1.80 8 5 0 0 0 0 25.0 18 5 4 1 6 26 0.960 6.5 0.4 2.2 9.4 4.33
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/10/2018.

 

Since his rookie season of 2015, where he found himself fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting, Osuna hasn’t looked back. He’s maintained a tidy 2.96 ERA over three-plus seasons at the MLB level, accumulated a 6.2 fWAR and struck out 243. And on Tuesday night, and after just 214 innings pitched as a major leaguer, and at just 23 years old and 62 days, Roberto Osuna became the youngest ballplayer in MLB history to record 100 saves. He did so by capping off a near no-hitter from Aaron Sanchez, and knocking on Russell Martin‘s door like always.

 

Growth as a Human and a Ballplayer

But Osuna is more than just a ballplayer. Early in the 2017 season, Osuna did something so few players can do. He opened up.

 

In a sport that rewards overbearing masculinity and attempts to punish those deemed mentally weak, what Osuna did off the field was greater than any accomplishment on it. But the support Osuna received was tremendous, both from the Blue Jays management, the fans, and even his own teammates.

 

 

Osuna missed time early in that 2017 season with a cervical spasm, and his anxiety issues came to light later that season in June. Osuna said he felt ‘weird and a little bit lost’ in early 2017. Despite what he felt inside, though, Osuna had already accrued 19 saves on the season while posting a svelte 2.48 ERA, later earning himself American League All-Star honours that season. As the dog days of the 2017 summer wore on, Osuna became the youngest player in baseball history to record 75 saves.

 

Seemingly, his anxiety issues are in the past. But these things have a way about them, a refusal to evaporate entirely, and we just can’t speak to how he feels inside at any given time.

 

Here’s to Another 100

Regardless of your viewpoint on the value of the closer position, there’s little argument to be made that Roberto Osuna isn’t a special player to the Toronto Blue Jays, their fans, and baseball as a whole. Despite making The Show at just 19 years old, he’s shown incredible skill, poise, and personal and professional growth. In just three short years, Roberto Osuna has proven to be the heart of the Toronto Blue Jays, and he is.

 

For some fun, I decided to ask around Blue Jays twitter as to some of their favourite Roberto Osuna memories. The replies did not disappoint:

 

 

 

 

The Jays From The Couch Guide To The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Is NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!!

 

The Paperback Version IS AVAILABLE HERE! ***DISCLAIMER*** If You Are Interested In Ordering A Paperback Copy, Understand That (For Now) It Is Available In The US Marketplace Only, Which Means That The List Price Is In USD And Is Subject To Shipping Costs. 

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

*****
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
*****

 

 

THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO AND SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

 

 

 

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.

Roy-Z

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.