Jason Grilli’s Blue Jays career appears to be over. Long live Jason Grilli*.
Getting word Jason Grilli packing up his locker. No official word from #BlueJays
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) June 27, 2017
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.
Over his first 33 appearances with the Blue Jays, Jason Grilli posted a 1.42 ERA with a 38.5% strikeout rate.https://t.co/fax1tTJ16J
— Jonah Birenbaum (@birenball) June 27, 2017
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.)