DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
I'll be honest. I was hoping to write something more exciting today. It is a Friday, a #TransactionFriday, so I was hoping to write about the implications of a Blue Jays trade, or an impact signing that could help the team next season. But it was not meant to be (as of 2:46 PM ET when I actually have time to write) so you're stuck with this instead. So I decided to investigate players who may or may not be on the MLB roster come opening day, but should be called up at some point. It's simple really, I will investigate whether or not pitchers on the 40-Man roster are worthy of a spot and important role come opening day.
The members of the rotation are settled. Sanchez, Stroman, Happ, Estrada, and Liriano will form a group which is expected to be among the American Leagues best starting staffs. In the bullpen, there are only 3 players who I am one hundred percent sertain will be on the opening day roster. These are Osuna, Grilli, and Biagini. That leaves four or five openings in the bullpen (depending on the size of the roster) and even if a few of these are filled by new acquisitions, there will still be spots for the taking.
A long time member of the Blue Jays system, Barnes finally broke through and made it to the big leagues in 2016. Overall, he pitched 13.2 innings with a 3.95 ERA last season. Personally, I am very high on Danny Barnes, as I believe he has the tools to be a good major league reliever. Despite recording a 3.95 ERA, Barnes's FIP was actually 2.20, which suggests there is room for improvement of those already decent numbers. Although ERA and FIP are not great stats given Barnes's small sample size, a decent fastball velocity of 91.7 MPH and decent secondary stuff, Barnes has a solid repertoire. Additionally, Barnes recorded a 2.80 K/BB ratio and did even better in the minors, where this number was 18.50 in AAA. Barnes has good stuff which he can command and for that reason alone, I think he can be relatively successful in a middle relief role.
Unlike Barnes, Boslinger was acquired last trade deadline when the Jays traded Jesse Chavez. A career starter, Boslinger recorded a 6.83 ERA in 6 starts for the Dodgers last offseason. Despite decent secondary stuff, Boslinger lacks the velocity (87.7 MPH fastball) to be a successful reliever in the major leagues. Despite his tendency to get groundballs (50.0 GB% for his big league career), Boslinger still struggles with the long ball, with a 15.1 HR/FB%. In addition, Boslinger to punch batters out, as he has never exceeded 8.50 K/9. Even though there is a chance he could be a decent long reliever, I am against having him on the roster come opening day. However, the Jays would have to expose him to waivers, so there is a good chance the Jays would keep him on the roster to keep him in their system. Overall, I'm not a big fan of Boslinger but if the Jays want to keep him, he's gonna have to be in the majors.
The Jays recently claimed former Padre Leonel Campos off waivers. Last season, he pitched 22 innings with a 5.73 ERA for San Diego. Despite these sub par numbers, there is some stuff to like about Campos. His fastball averaged 93 MPH last season, he has a decent slider, and he managed to add 0.21 WPA despite the apparent struggles. Overall, he showed an ability to get groundballs, and limit hard contact. Campos's biggest problem is his command. Last year he averaged 5.40 and 5.73 BB/9 in AAA and the majors respectively, and he's only managed a BB/9 below 4.50 at any level once, (2015 in AAA). If the Jays can straighten his command than he could be a valuable weapon out of the bullpen. If not, it's likely that he'll be on a different roster at this time next year.
Making his big leagues last September, Dermordy surrendered 4 runs in 3 innings with the club. Despite these struggles, there are things to like about Dermordy, such as a 0.92 and 2.76 ERA in AA and AAA respectively last season, and a solid slider which he threw about 40% of the time. Dermordy's biggest problem was an inability to strike batters out, with just a K/9 of 3.31 in almost 20 AAA innings as well as a 8.0 K% to go along. Despite limiting the walks, Dermordy clearly struggles to get big punch outs, so I feel he should start next year in the minors, however I expect him to get a real shot at the bigs in spring training because the front office is apparently high on him (they sent him to the Arizona Fall League), and because he is left handed.
Another career Blue Jays farm hand, Girodo made his debut with the Jays last season. Pitching 10.1 innings and 14 games, the team clearly thought Girodo was ready for the big leagues last season. Despite this, he clearly struggled with a 6.82 FIP in this time. Overall, Girodo lacks velovity, as his average fastball was less than 87 MPH hour. As a result, he struggled to record strikeouts, with just 6.06 K/9 in AAA and 4.35 K/9 in the majors. Like Dermordy, Girodo should get a chance at the bigs next season due to the bullpens lack of lefty depth, and his decent numbers overall (4.35 ERA) even if he's not entirely ready for the show.
In interesting option, the Jays recently claimed Leone from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he managed a 6.33 ERA in 27 MLB innings. Despite the high ERA, there are things to like about Leone, such a fastball which averaged more than 93 MPH last season and a tendency to get groundballs (>50 GB% for his career). Despite the velocity, Leone struggles to get strikeouts, with just a 7.67 K/9 in the bigs last season. Despite performing will in 2014 (8-2 2.17 ERA in 66.1 innings), Leone has really struggles recently. If the Jays can restore some of his former magic than he is a fantastic bullpen option. If not, than he's in a similar situation to Leonel Campos.
I don't know why but I love Bo Schultz. Maybe its the unique delivery. Maybe its the big fastball. Either way, Schultz did not perform like he did in 2015 last season, as he managed a 5.51 ERA in 16.1 innings. Despite a fastball which averaged more than 96 MPH, Schultz simply struggled to get batters our, as he managed just 5.51 K/9 in the bigs and a 5.61 K/9 in AAA. With these apparent struggles, it appears there is little to like about Schultz, however I believe that given a chance, he could produce similarly to Matt Barnes of the Red Sox. If he fails to make the big leagues, I would not be surprised to see him called up and down all next season unless he proves to be a strong relief option. Overall the hard throwing righty deserves a real chance at the big leagues if only because he's the hardest thrower on this list.
Despite lacking an obvious strength out of the bullpen, Tepera managed solid overall numbers for the Jays last season. With a 2.95 ERA and a scoreless playoff appearance, I would be surprised if he is not on the opening day roster. Despite his apparent lack of ability, Tepera manages to provide decent relief whenever called upon, with 8.48 K/9 and a 95 MPH fastball. With a decent changeup, and average, ordinary general numbers, Tepera strikes me as having a similar ceiling to Schultz, though it could be argued that he has a higher floor. It would shock me if he is not on the MLB roster in April but you never know with these fringe players so only time will tell.
In general, my thoughts on these arms are they all come with weaknesses and all have some strengths. Given the choice, I'd want Barnes, Tepera, and Girodo on the roster in that order, but Leone is a big wild card. If a couple of these arms prove to be decent next season, it could make a big impact on the strength of the Blue Jays next season. Until then, we are all left to speculate who the Jays will chose for a spot on the major league roster.