The Toronto Blue Jays have addressed their need for a lefty presence in their bullpen by agreeing to a deal with Franklin Morales.
With Aaron Loup on the shelf, the Blue Jays were trying to figure out how they were going to ensure they don’t have to start the season with Brett Cecil as the only left handed pitcher in the bullpen. The solution to the problem was to go with the guy they knew had success against lefties last season- Ryan Tepera. It looks like we have the answer to just how long the Blue Jays will run with him as the lefty specialist righty.
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) April 3, 2016
Morales comes to the Blue Jays from the Kansas City Royals, where he went 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA and a FIP of 3.52. He was worth 0.4 WAR in 67 games (62.1 innings). A strong 2015 season for Morales is what the Blue Jays are hoping he can replicate with them. Though, if he cannot, the deal they signed is not guaranteed, so, they aren’t locked into keeping him.
What the Blue Jays are hoping for is that he can bring his 5.4% walk rate and his low homerun totals from last season. Though, looking back through his years on Fangraphs, one notices that he has off and on years with his success. If the pattern holds, this season would fall under the “off” years category. But, that can’t possibly be an indicator of potential success, right? Some of those years were spent with the Rockies, so pitching numbers should be taken with a grain of Rocky Mountain air.
Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs offers this as a description: “He managed to lower his walk rate to a career best with the Royals, but his strikeout rate is still poor and his ground ball rate is not impressive enough to make up for it.”
Morales is a fastball, slider, curve and change pitcher. He throws his FB (which sits at 92mph) most of the time, followed by his slider. These two offerings are what helped him out most last season as they had a value of 3.4 (wFB- runs above average) and 1.8 (wSL- runs above average).
The recency of Morales’ success and the Blue Jays need for a situational lefty have combined to make this a deal that makes sense. It might seem to be quite large, but if it works out, $2M is not a lot to pay for an effective reliever. It working out also means that the depth of the ‘pen just got deeper, especially when you add Loup back into the mix. If it does not work out, then the team can pull the plug (since it’s not a guaranteed deal) and then they haven’t really lost much. They signed Steve Delabar for $800K and were willing to release him.
Ryan Tepera will head to AAA Buffalo and likely by near the front of the line for callups during the season. Just how much the team likes him is obvious and when you’re in that position, you will get opportunities.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER: CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.