The Toronto Blue Jays may have found their interim closer in Seung-Hwan Oh
As the baseball season rolls on, the question of the Blue Jays closing position remains a question mark. Roberto Osuna is under suspension resulting from a breach in the MLB’s domestic violence policy. Ross Atkins said just this week that he would be put in the rotation when the suspension ends, but there are many fans who aren’t thrilled with that prospect. Yes, a court of law hasn’t decided on guilt or innocence, but it’s hard to reconcile when the MLB has found in their independent investigation that a breach of the policy occurred. What is the club to do? What if there’s another alternative?
Seung-Hwan Oh has stepped up his game lately, giving the Blue Jays some clean innings, a welcomed sight as the Blue Jays fight back to .500 ball… again. Earning his fourth save Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, Oh kept a tied game tied, leading the way to Justin Smoak’s walk off home run.
Considered to be one of the most successful closers in Korean baseball history, Oh was acquired in an offseason deal – presumably as the set up man – with the hope he would be able to duplicate his 2016 season in which he pitched to a 1.92 ERA in the 76 games he tossed.
Oh, known for his very calm demeanor- his nickname is the Stone Buddha – and using what looks like a great poker face, has the ability to throw strikes no matter the situation. In his last 7 games, he has pitched to a 1.35 ERA with 1 earned run and 13 strikeouts. Oh’s ability to be calm under pressure is a trait a team looks for in a closer. Unrattled is key, and something John Gibbons, manager of the Blue Jays, has mentioned multiple times when referencing Oh. If Oh has truly found his groove, he is the obvious candidate to take over the role the Blue Jays desperately need to fill. Oh’s innings splits tell the story visually of his success as a closer rather than a set up man (obvious small sample size alert).
In what has been a somewhat disappointing season so far, and with Ryan Tepera – the first in line for the closer job for many – hitting the DL, Oh just might be the one to shut things down in the ninth this season. While he does, we can take our mind off the closer’s role and look to the future pitchers coming up through the farm system.
What does that look like you might ask? There are a few bright arms, albeit likely not bullpen pieces, to keep your eyes on. Jon Harris, the Blue Jays #10 pitching prospect is one, who has been lighting up the mound as of late. He had his debut in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons, pitching six clean innings with four strikeouts and no earned runs.
Jordan Romano, a hometown boy on the Blue Jays system from Markham Ontario who, with the Buffalo Bisons, has pitched to an ERA of 3.60 so far – which is hopefully sustainable as he continues developing in AAA.
Ryan Borucki is definitely one to keep your eyes on. He was just recently called up and made his debut in the majors with the Blue Jays against the defending World Series Champions, the Houston Astros. Starting last season in Class A Dunedin, Borucki rocketed his way through the system landing in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. This season in Buffalo, Borucki has had in 13 starts a 3.27 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched.
While many Blue Jays fans have resigned themselves to 2018 being a transition year, there is still promise being seen on the field and throughout the system. Seung Hwan Oh can deliver what is needed to get through 2018, and there is promising prospects developing to carry the Blue Jays to a future of post season play. Hold on though, the ride that is 2018 isn’t nearly over yet!
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.