Roberto Osuna Named The Blue Jays’ Closer, As The Club Announces Its Full Opening Day Roster

Roberto Osuna
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, so Drew Storen isn’t going to be the Blue Jays’ closer! That’s… unexpected.

The Jays have announced this morning that last year’s rookie sensation, Roberto Osuna, will continue in the role — with John Gibbons citing his familiarity with Osuna as the reason for not making the switch.

That’s cool and all, I guess. Those roles are always fluid, and dependent on how everybody does, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to make too much of a big deal of an announcement like this. But… well… it’s certainly not how I think I’d have done it.

I’d much rather see Osuna being deployed in the highest leverage situations possible, and potentially, on occasion, for four outs or more — which, of course, would help to bump up his inning totals so that next year, when he damn well should be made a starter, he’ll have that much higher a floor to work from.

Then again, maybe it’s kinda smart. Maybe?

The thing is, I worry a bit about Storen. Not because of some magical difficulty he supposedly has with pitching in an even-numbered inning — despite the very notable meltdown at the end of last season, after the NationLOLs traded for Jonathan Papelbon and bumped Storen from the closer’s role, he’s thrived outside the ninth inning before — but because he just sort of feels like the kind of guy who is better suited to coming in to pitch a clean inning, rather than being thrust into a high-leverage situation with runners on in order to bail someone else out. And he feels especially miscast coming into games as that sort of guy when Osuna — who we’ve seen excel in exactly those kinds of situations — will be sitting right there. Especially considering that he’s made more than three outs in only two appearances since the start of 2012, and hasn’t gone more than one inning in either of the last two years.

But have I really gone through the data in order to be sure I can back such vague feelings up? No, I definitely haven’t. And there’s probably nearly as much to like about the fact that Osuna will be available in the eighth, when needed, to bail Storen out and pull off some four-, or even five-out saves.

So… whatever? Especially because this stuff is hardly written in stone.

It’s just… Osuna is damn good and probably won’t give the club a reason to think about replacing him, meaning it’s going to be hard for Storen to fail his way up into what I tend to think is a more ideal role. But if they’re mostly just going to use him to try to pitch a clean inning in the eighth (which, even if they’re gung ho about throwing him into somebody else’s mess, is what’s going to happen the vast majority of the time anyway), how much does it honestly matter?

Meanwhile, the club has also announced that Ezequiel Carrera (who let’s please, seriously, not ever call Zeke) has made the team as the fourth outfielder — which is completely expected, although a mild injustice to Darrell Ceciliani, who will only go to Buffalo because he has minor league options remaining — and that it’s Ryan Tepera (and his reverse splits) who has nabbed the last spot in the Jays’ bullpen, with Pat Venditte being optioned to the minors.

That means Joe Biagini and Arnold Leon (who would likely have been lost to another organization if they hadn’t) have also made the club. At least until Marco Estrada comes off the DL, which he’s expected to do a week from Sunday. (Tepera could be optioned down at that point, too, theoretically, but that would leave only Brett Cecil as a guy who can be matched up against an opponent’s toughest lefties).

So this is it! The Opening Day roster! Assuming they don’t change course on Edwin Encarnacion and have him open the season on the DL (which currently is not the plan). Have a look:

Positional Starters

C Russell Martin
1B Chris Colabello
2B Ryan Goins
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Michael Saunders
CF Kevin Pillar
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion

Bench

IF Darwin Barney
OF Ezequiel Carrera
C Josh Thole
1B/DH Justin Smoak

Starting Rotation

RHP Marcus Stroman
RHP RA Dickey
RHP Aaron Sanchez
LHP JA Happ

Bullpen

RHP Roberto Osuna
RHP Drew Storen
LHP Brett Cecil
RHP Jesse Chavez
RHP Gavin Floyd
RHP Joe Biagini
RHP Arnold Leon
RHP Ryan Tepera

DL

RHP Marco Estrada
LHP Aaron Loup
2B Devon Travis
  • fastball

    Really? The East is “wide open”?
    OK, I get that the game is played on grass and NOT on paper – and that injuries happen, and Murphy’s Law and Lady Luck can take turns pissing all over any team’s best-laid plans….but “wide open”? Spit happens, I get it.
    I’m not being a blinkered homer-guy here – but I’d say that ON PAPER, the Jays should be considered the prohibitive favorites to win the East.

    • Dabbles

      I mean any team can win in baseball but Boston on paper is pretty good. Better SP and BP. If our offense performs like last year we will win, if we do not we will lose. Boston surprisingly had a lot of offense last year.

      Edit. just googled there BP is pretty crap actually (although ours isnt any better). I still have us as the favorites of the east.

      • Paul M

        I don’t know…Boston’s bullpen has some good pieces. It’s not New York’s, but what is?

        I guess I can see the point that you and fastball are making, but I really could see any team winning the East this year except for the OriLOLes…and every time we say that about the [redacted]birds, they win the [redacted] division…

      • Alan

        I’m not as sold on Boston’s pitching as some seem to be. You have Price in the rotation followed by 4 question marks. Buchholz and Porcello could be very good, but could also be VERY bad. Their bullpen also is kind of middling at best after you move away from Kimbrel and Uehara. Osuna and Storen could match up pretty well here. I think overall Boston does have a very slight edge in pitching with Price and Kimbrel, but IF Stroman, Sanchez, Storen and Osuna pitch to potential, then the edge there could disappear pretty quickly. Our lineup is where the big difference is going to be. This staff has to be basically what Grant Fuhr was to the Oilers in the 80’s – just have to go out there and hold the opposition to 5 or less. I think that the East is Toronto’s to lose, with the only worry for me being Tampa Bay.

  • Steve-O

    No major quibbles with any of these decisions, really, though I too held out some vague hope of Osuna being deployed in a Betances role for the reasons Stoeten laid out. Oh well.

    This all means we’re really close to real baseball again. Exciting!