The Toronto Blue Jays would do well to consider Boone Logan this winter to fill their need for a lefty reliever.
We’re just a few days into the offseason, and as the Cubs march in front of six million elated fans, it’s time for 29 other teams to tackle their new found holes and flaws exposed this summer. What better way to start than scouring the wandering free agent souls for 40-inning LOOGY relievers?
With the possible departure of the underappreciated Brett Cecil, there will be significant void in the Blue Jays bullpen in 2017 which can only be filled internally by the much-maligned Aaron Loup. While Loup has had his successes with the Jays, his past two season have been largely ineffective, allowing 29 earned runs over 56 2/3 innings.
So, with only Loup to face tough lefties at the end of games for the Jays, it would be wise for the Jays to look around for another LOOGY. While most of the names available right now are underwhelming at best, one sticks out: Boone Logan.
Most Jays fans will recognize the name Boone Logan from his Yankees days, where in signature Joe Girardi fashion the then 25-year old reliever was driven into the ground. Logan posted seasons of 51, 64, 80 and 61-appearances from 2010-2013, ranging from 40 to 55 innings pitched in each. In comparison, Cleveland bullpen ace Andrew Miller made 60 in 2015 and another 70 in 2016 – although 104 of those came under Joe Girardi as well. As soon as his Yankees tenure ended, he underwent surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. Despite all of this, Logan still posted a great stat line over his Yankees career:
Somehow, very little interest was paid to Boone Logan in the 2013 offseason, and he signed a three-year deal with the Colorado Rockies for $16.25M, carrying him through his age-32 season. His 2013 was an undesirable effort, but some of that may be chalked up to coming off an elbow surgery and pitching at Coors Field. The rest of his Rockies career, though, was sneakily good:
As expected, Logan battled the home run ball in 2014, but by 2015 he had rounded himself into a downright decent relief pitcher again, and in 2016, he was pretty solid. He dropped his HR/9 from a dismal 2.16 (yikes) to a svelte 0.78 – on par or at least similar to the Blue Jays pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Only Logan did it at Coors Field.
So why the turnaround? His walk, strikeout, home run and ground balls rates mostly stayed the same in Colorado, but his 2016 was significantly better in 2015 based on Fangraphs’ WAR. Looking at his BABIP, you might say it was luck, but let’s not just look at where the balls fell, but how they came out of his hand:
The one thing that sticks out with this Baseball Savant velocity chart is his fastball and changeup over his time in Colorado. In 2014, Logan was averaging 91.89 MPH on his two-seam while hurling a change-up at 90.1 MPH. An offset of merely two MPH in minuscule for a major-league hitter, negating most of the effectiveness of the pitch. In 2016 though, Logan picked up a tick on his fastball, averaging a 93.7 MPH two-seam. While the uptick in velocity is nice enough, he sliced 3.2 MPH off of his change-up, averaging 86.8 MPH this season. That 6.81 MPH difference plays huge.
Logan has also gradually increased the velocity of his slider over the last four years a total of 3.1 MPH. That slider was used to produce a lot of the Ol’ College Try swings like this one from Yangervis Solarte:
And to wiggle out of some bases-loaded jams like this one:
It’s a bit rare to find a lefty reliever with two good pitches who can pile on with a slider to produce silly swings like you see above. And as he finally put some breathing room in between his fastball and change-up, Logan’s BABIP dropped a staggering .158 between 2014 and 2016. As a result he lowered his hit total from 40 in 2015 to just 27 in 2016, and he did it while pitching 11 more innings.
So, should the Blue Jays pursue Boone Logan? If Cecil is gone, then absolutely. Aaron Loup’s recent history is far too volatile to rely upon heavily, and Logan has already shown three years of consistent success in the American League East – and is coming off a very good season in an extremely hitter-friendly park. And hey, maybes he’s even a fun guy:
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*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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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.