With the new acquisition of longtime Cincinnati Red and Texas Ranger Francisco Cordero, the pecking order in the bullpen just got a little more complicated.
Alex Anthopoulos has done an excellent job of restructuring and ameliorating such a dismal bullpen. With the acquisition of Sergio Santos, the return of Jason Frasor and the addition of 80-year old Darren Oliver, the Blue Jays have turned one of their weaknesses into one of their strengths.
After tying for the league lead in blown saves last season this overhaul will surely improve the 'pen.
But how should the innings play out?
Most teams that have a very successful bullpen (I am looking at you Atlanta Braves) have a very clear-cut breakdown of everyone’s responsibilities and duties. Flamethrower Craig Kimbrel nails down the save after an excellent eighth by Jonny Venters and a smooth seventh by Eric O’Flaherty.
So who should get what inning?
There are a few things that are certain, Darren Oliver will be the lefty specialist out of the pen and does extremely well in this role. But other than that, the seventh, eighth and ninth are to be split between four guys?
Cordero, Santos, Frasor and long-time Jay Casey Janssen all have the tools to be either consistent set-up men or closers. I guess this is a good problem to have.
When the Blue Jays traded for Santos, it was common knowledge that he would step into the closers role after the dynamic season he had in Chicago in 2011 (30 saves, 1.11 WHIP, 13+ K/9). But with the Cordero signing, this becomes much murkier.
I believe that the job is Santos’ to lose and Cordero, the soon to be 37-year-old will be there to help guide Santos and provide some competition.
According to the official Blue Jays website, the closer role was promised to Santos when he was acquired in December.
So let us proclaim that Santos grabs the closer role, then who gets the eighth?
With the year that Casey Janssen had it is tough to say he shouldn’t be the set-up man (6-0, 2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP). However Janssen, a former starter, could also be very helpful/reliable in a longer role out of the pen.
Jason Frasor could also be a candidate for the eighth as he did for the Blue Jays for so many years. He played poorly for the Sox down the stretch but still maintained a sub 3.00 ERA for the Jays before being traded.
Lastly is Cordero. He has 327 career saves so he will definitely help Santos develop. Personally, I think the eighth is his to lose but it could very much be a game-by-game process.
Over the past five years, CoCo has averaged 38.8 saves a season. That type of success can only help this bullpen grow, but at the age of 36 how much does he have left?
My predictions are Santos in the ninth, Cordero in the eighth, Frasor in the seventh and Janssen the utility guy that can help wherever needed.
As I said at the beginning, this is a good problem to have, and with this many quality options in the pen, it will be exciting to see the Jays hold onto some leads for once, curse you Jon Rauch!
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