The Blue Jays bullpen needs help. No need to make a trade, giving up valuable pieces when you have possible solutions in the minor leagues
In recent seasons the Blue Jays have seen several non-prospect relief pitchers rise through the system to provide valuable innings in Toronto’s bullpen. Relievers like Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera were drafted with little fan fair, yet still they showed the ability to get major league batters out.
This season the Blue Jays bullpen has seen it’s fair share of struggles. Brett Cecil and Drew Storen were expected to anchor the back-end of the bullpen while providing a bridge from Toronto’s starter to it’s closer, Roberto Osuna.
Cecil has 5 losses and a 5.59ERA and Storen is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 9 innings.
Toronto has used Arnold Leon, Pat Venditte, Ryan Tepera, Chad Girodo in hopes of finding another arm to compliment Joe Biagini, Jesse Chavez and Gavin Floyd. So far Chad Girodo had the best results with two shutout innings before being returned to Buffalo.
With no word of Aaron Loup’s return being imminent, some may thank the baseball gods for that, it appears that Toronto will need to continue the mix-and-match game in the bullpen until an answer can be found.
A little more than a month into the season, several minor bullpen arms have separated themselves from the pack, putting up impressive numbers at various levels. These arms, while not high ceiling prospect and/or flamethrowers, could prove to valuable for Manager John Gibbons as he looks to find the right combination of relievers for his bullpen.
Dustin Antolin is a 26-yr-old out of Mililani, Hawaii and has looked very good in Buffalo. Now this isn’t the first time that I’ve pumped Dustin’s tires, having raved about this young man prior to the 2015 season and he didn’t disappoint. Good results in 2015 didn’t translate into a promotion to Triple-A. After re-signing as a minor league free-agent this February Antolin was given a chance to compete for one of the Bisons bullpen spots.
The results speak for themselves.
The former 11th round pick from the 2008 draft throws a low-90’s fastball with decent movement. The 6’2″ 230lb right-hander also throws a slider and change which flashes average to above average.
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) May 2, 2016
Despite making just one start, Dustin ranks near the top of the International League with 21 strikeouts. Strikeouts aren’t anything new to Antolin who averaged 8.63, 10.97, and 8.89 strike outs per 9IP between 2013 and 2015 while pitching out of the Fisher Cats bullpen.
Dustin Antolin’s Career Stats:
Why has ittaken Antolin this long to get to Triple-A? Control and contact. This season Antolin has walked 5.06 batters per 9IP in 16 innings, while walking just 2.91/9IP in 2015 and walking 3.16/9IP in 2014. Looking at his stats above, you can see that he typically gives up at least one hit/per innings; therefore, he’s never been considered a shutdown reliever.
Watching Antolin for the past couple years, I’ve noticed he looks stronger and more comfortable on the mound in 2016.
The likelihood of Dustin Antolin making to Toronto in 2016 is limited. First, he isn’t on the 40-man roster. Second, there are a number of other RP already on the 40-man roster making the likelihood of being added unlikely….at this point. Nonetheless, Antolin is one relief pitcher to keep our eye on as the season unfolds.
*Feature Image Credit: slgckgcunder CC BY-SA 2.0
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.