Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Grilli Is Being Hosed Down As We Speak (He’s DFA), Plus: Zeke Activated, And More!

Jason Grilli’s Blue Jays career appears to be over. Long live Jason Grilli*.

To wit:

I’d say something here like “Jason Grilli, we hardly knew ye,” but over the course of the 2017 season I think we all got to know Grilli and his struggles a little bit too well. He was a magnificent addition to the Jays in 2016, and without him and the job he did steadying the back end of the bullpen, I don’t know that we get Edwin’s Wild Card Walk-Off, all those Zach-Britton-still-sitting-in-the-bullpen jokes, the two hilarious spankings the Jays gave the clowns down in Texas, Josh Donaldson’s mad dash to the plate, or another ALCS the Jays should have won. Basically everything great that happened in the 2016 season.

Sure, you could probably say that about a lot of players and a lot of moments, and maybe I’m getting a bit maudlin about it, but Grilli was huge, man. HUGE.

And then he wasn’t.

I wrote about Grilli and the Jays having more patience than their fans with the embattled reliever in my latest mailbag at VICE Sports, and already the answer hasn’t aged well. But I did concede that “there will come a time, if things don’t improve, where they’ll need to part ways with him.” I guess the Jays felt that this was the time.

With uncertainty surrounding Roberto Osuna, the right-handed relief pecking order was perhaps due a shift — and perhaps it was one that would have led to Grilli pitching in some higher leverage situations than the club was comfortable with (higher than nothing remotely resembling leverage whatsoever, in other words). There will also be a place needed sooner or later for Glenn Sparkman, and hopefully soon also for Joe Smith — not to mention Aaron Sanchez — so something was going to have to give. And with Grilli simply not pitching well enough to deserve his spot on the roster, and being hidden away by John Gibbons as best he could, I guess this was it. I could have kept waiting and hoping, but I’m pretty sure I’m in a tiny minority on that.

We’ll always have that BBQ apron though (which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with the timing of this). And those screaming, grunting, fireballing outings that so helped make last season what it was.

See you in Syracuse, bud.

* * *

More roster news as the Jays make this all official: Grilli has been D’d FA, Dwight Smith Jr. has been optioned back to Buffalo (boo!), while Chris Smith (as noted earlier) is up to take Grilli’s place in the ‘pen, and Ezequiel Carrera — BIG ZEKE — has been reinstated from the DL! (Yay!) (No, really.)


* the version that wasn’t godawful to watch, that is
    • ErnieWhitt

      I don’t totally disagree but DSJ has had some fugly moments out there too. Also, as much as I don’t believe it, Zeke still has a higher wRC+ than Bautista, Morales, Pearce, Pillar etc.. It is bound not to continue, but for all of his glaring past faults, he’s been objectively valuable to the team this season. DSJ has also been pretty amazing in a very small sample. They’ve both been lucky with batted balls, but Zeke’s is much closer to believable. Hard call.

    • Literally insane.

      Carrera is not a great defender, and maybe not even a good defender, but he’s fine out there. His mistakes are glaring and maddening, but don’t let them outweigh all the good he does out there — which is more than you think. Speed makes up for a lot of sins.

      And then there’s his bat. He has a 125 wRC+ against right-handers in the big leagues this season. There’s nothing in his track record to suggest he’ll continue at that clip, but it’s better than Smith’s overall mark this season AT BUFFALO. In 12 MLB games Smith’s got a .588 BABIP and is striking out 35% of the time with no walks. Please consider being fucking serious.

      • jays17

        Easy there. Should we pull out some of your articles from pre-season where you *repeatedly* trashed Zeke and said he was useless? You also repeatedly brought up his reverse splits against righties with such a small sample size it was useless (which has been proven this year). You were lobbying for Melvin Upton to be kept over Goins too!!

  • ErnieWhitt

    A lot of forces conspired to see this happen, though the ultimate factor is performance. Sparkman has to come up in a few days and yes they could send Beliveau or Leon down, but at some point when Biagini and Smith are added back there you’re talking about having to send down Tapera or Barnes which would be senseless. Better to cut ties with the guys who are under performing, now that you’ve given them 75 games or so to show that they’re worth keeping.