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Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Awful Thoughts After An Awful Loss: What’s Up With Roberto Osuna and Is This It For José Bautista?

Well that was no fun. The Jays, after being up 6-0 at one point in Monday night’s game, were walked off by the empty husk of the Chicago White Sox, who I believe had the likes of Rey McSriff and Bobson Dugnutt in their lineup.

And so, with the trade deadline in the rear view, the long final two months of the 2017 Blue Jays season begins.

Ugh.

I usually try to keep focused on the positive in this great sea of unrestrained, half-witted, cynical, braying negativity that we call fandom (especially on the internet), but that’s a tough ask tonight. That was shitty and stupid. And even if they’d won — which they should have and almost did! — I was ready in that ninth inning to face some rather dark questions.

Now it all feels worse, and like piling on. But here we are. We’re gonna do it anyway…

* * *

What’s Up With Roberto Osuna?

Roberto Osuna wasn’t exactly getting blasted around the yard in this one. He wasn’t awful. He managed to record a strikeout, and was punished by an infield single, a hit by pitch, a blooper, and one actually decently struck ball.

Normally I’d laugh off an outing like that. Even coming,  as this one did, after a similarly unfortunate performance in Saturday’s loss to the Angels.

Osuna’s been great this year! Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs wrote a paean to him just three weeks ago, calling him “just about perfect.” No big deal, right?

Uh… maybe not, actually.

Keegan Matheson of MLB.com has been especially on top of what Osuna’s pitch mix and his velocity has looked like in his last two starts, and it’s not been typical of him. Which doesn’t necessarily make it a big deal… but it’s interesting.

Those two tweets were from Saturday. And then these are from today:

What does it mean? Maybe nothing. But somebody should probably ask him if he’s OK! We’ve reached the stage of the season where it they might as well be careful about it if his arm’s barking at him or something. Not that I’m saying it’s that — or anything! — it’s just… something to keep monitoring.

* * *

Is This It For José Bautista?

Not a question any Jays fan with a soul will particularly want to think about, but this is maybe where we’re at.

Bautista was 0-for-5 with a strikeout tonight. His wRC+ for the season has sunk to 89. He’s hit 16 home runs so far this season, which puts him about on pace to get to the 22 he hit last year, but that’s a small bright spot in an ugly set of numbers. His 23.7% strikeout rate is the worst since his four team rookie year of 2004. His ISO has slipped from .285 in 2015 to .217 last year to .169. His slugging percentage sits at just .385 — before this his worst since 2010 was last year’s .452 mark, and before that a .498 in 2013.

He’s below replacement level by WAR. His defence isn’t good. His 1.4 WAR last season was hardly inspiring — and even then there was hope that the leg injuries he dealt with were sapping his power and that he might bounce back when at full health. This year he’s played in all but one game, and yet… this. He’s slashing .215/.324/.385 right now.

Bautista at his peak was great. Good fucking lord he was great. But this is a long way from his peak.

José will be a free agent after this season, as there’s no way that the Blue Jays pick up their end of his $17 million option. He’s a hitter with an incredible past, but he’ll be 37 years old, and surely will only be looked at as a DH. The market for him will be thin, to say the least. The market for him at the trade deadline was nonexistent. Will a big league contract even be out there for him?

When you think of the kinds of sad seasons that come at the ends of careers of great sluggers, don’t they sorta look like this?

Cheer loud and cheer hard for mighty José these next two months, my friends. It’s been a great run.

    • BOJACK Vince Horseman

      No interest? Shatkins claims they fielded “hundreds of calls” on Jose the last couple weeks. My guess….Jose was not willing to waive his no trade to any team that wanted him. My alternative take. Shatkins was lying.

      • vic

        Of course Atkins was lying. Why would he come out and undercut his own player by saying that he had no value? Even Jose probably knows that no one wants him. He tested free agency and came crawling back to the Jays at a huge discount from what he was asking for the previous year, and now he’s declined even further since then.

        Enjoy his last two months with the Jays and on the final home day of the season give him the respect he deserves for everything he did for this organization.

      • IMW

        1) There is no such person as Shatkins
        2) I don’t believe he ever said that
        3) He did say, and I believe Jose confirmed that it never got to the point where Jose was asked to waive his no-trade.

      • Strange to see such a great and thoughtful comment from you below, as compared to this trash.

        The use of “Shatkins” invalidates a commenter’s opinion 100% of the time. So does dreaming up a bunch of bullshit.

        It is entirely possible they had teams interested in taking a flyer on Bautista for a shit prospect and the Jays paying all the freight — the way the Jays did last year when acquiring Melvin Upton — and that the club wasn’t interested in doing that and so didn’t approach him to waive the no-trade. This is, in fact, probable.

  • BOJACK Vince Horseman

    You know, I noticed this over-reliance on the cutter / slider / slurve dating back to the Oakland series. He didn’t look right in that game, although he did get the save. His velo had been up leading into the ASB, he was still mostly sitting 95, 96, but there were some 97’s…maybe even a couple 98s…

    but then all of a sudden he’s started to look like early season Osuna recently. Not throwing that 4 seamer is going to mitigate the utility of the cutter / slider as it really looks like people are sitting on them.

    My amateur take is that once he feels his velocity is down, he naturally goes away from it and relies heavy on the rest of his arsenal. Now his stuff is so good that he is still tough enough..i mean its not like he’s been getting hit around, even on Saturday he gave up only two hits, one a grounder that found its way down the line..but he’s not that same guy we saw blowing away the Yankees or sox.

  • BlueJayWay

    You know what’s kind of depressing to think about? The Blue Jays have lost no fewer than four games this year in which they were just one (1) out away from winning. That’s painful. One out – one strikeout, pop up, lazy fly ball, ground ball, liner or fliner at someone. If they had gotten just those four outs, they’d be 53-53 right now, 5 games out of first, and only 2 games behind Kansas City for the 2nd wildcard (since one of those losses was against them). As bad as everything has been, they’d still be in it.

  • BlueJayWay

    Apparently, we can both trash and cheer our own posts on here! That’s interesting!

    I think Bautista is clearly done as well. I was pondering this question recently: on this date next year, is he on a major league roster?

  • Just Jeff

    I wonder if Jose just retires at the end of this season. He’s a proud guy and he must know his offensive performance has been pretty awful. I’m sure the organization would give him a cushy job if he wanted to stay in the game.

    Realistically, how much could he get in free agency this offseason? And what kind of team is going to pick him up to be much more than a bench bat at this point?

    • Dexxter

      Smoak got $4mill putting up worse numbers than Bautista. Someone would give him a few million and hope he’s still got something in the tank.

      Maybe a rebuilding team for his veteran presents or as a potential deadline trade chip. Yanks or Red Sox might do it just to spite us!!

    • lukewarmwater

      Good questions regarding Joey Batts. Is Japan a possibility or does he indeed retire and have the Jays set him up in the organisation. Father time has indeed caught up with this outstanding Jay who gave us so many thrills over the years.

  • El Cabeza

    From an offensive standpoint it seems Bautista has returned to whence he came – a fringe MLB hitter – just as suddenly as he became an OPS machine. From a defensive standpoint he’s old as fuck and can’t play. He’ll be lucky to find a spot on an MLB roster next spring.

    If I were his agent I would advise him to opt out of the contract, re-sign with the Jays for the minimum next year, pop Odor in his smug grill in the first game vs. Texas, then retire a Blue Jay and enjoy his newly minted spot on the Level of Excellence.

  • lukewarmwater

    What we have seen from the Jays this season and particulary in the past 10 days or so are some wonderful highs and then a lower than a slug in my garden performance last night against the triple A White Sox. As far as Osuna goes, yeah any time your fastball is dropping off 3 or 4 miles it tells you it is likely a tired arm. My goodness people having a hissy fit over a true star at 22 as a closer. Btw did you notice how the Yankee set up man and Chapman struggled for awhile there. Got to remind folks Osuna is human. In both blown saves a couple of chintzy infield hits, a hit batsman and bloop singles did them in. With the score tied, would not one think the outfield would be playing much shallower in case of the bloop single.
    Heh folks with spring training likely to be much of the 2018 season, as the Jays assess the young prospects in the outfield, infield and pitching we can expect some exciting, wonderful entertaining ball and we can also be guaranteed of some totally over flowed the toilet shit ball like last night. Yep shit indeed happens. Relax people the rebuild will take place as we try to figure what to do with the 18 million dollar short stop who is beginning to make Joffrey Lupul look healthy and an aging veteran catcher who is a class act and has provided the Jays with solid behind the plate play but is costing the club 20 milliion in one good Canadian kid Russel Martin.
    John Gibbons hinted after the Cleveland series last year that he hoped management would give him more speed. Sadly we have the slowest team in the league and it is not just the constant grounding into double plays but the inability of too many plodding runners not able to get to third on a deep single or score from second due to their lack of speed.
    Hopefully Shapiro and Aitkins will be able to bring in two players with above average speed who in so many extra inning games and late in the ball games supply that extra winning run, especially at home where the Jays have struggled to be a 500 club. I get that a gazillion stats are out there. But a speedster changes defences, infield drawn in for the bunt, enabling the hitter to slap the ball by for a hit. Pitcher tossing to first, three or four times, s.s. or second baseman closer to the bag. Outfielders changing position if speedster gets to second and a very accurate , and hard throw required to nail the speedster at the plate on a single.
    Changes are indeed coming folks as I think the new management realises we can’t simply continue the pow, kaboom, bang 3 to 0 lead on 3 solo homers and expect to win even when you have a 6 to 0 lead as two White Sox players almost destroy each other to give the team what should be an insurmountable lead. But shit happens , especially when due to injuries, ageing ball players suddenly deteriorate in a hurry. In the mean time and in between time to quote the late great Ed Whalen, RELAX.