The Toronto Blue Jays concluded their season, and it was by any standards a successful one. Something was a bit different, however, about the 2016 version of the Blue Jays. That difference was the pitching. Their vaunted lineup, although they were good, fell short of the historical season they put together last year. This year the pitching staff was relied on much more in getting them to the ALCS, and that is worth a second look.
With Marcus Stroman, the ace of the staff leading the team, the starters gave them a chance to win nearly 90 games this year, as they finished with 89 victories. Stroman’s 9-10 record and 4.37 ERA wasn’t indicative of how well the ace threw the ball, and he kept them in nearly every game he started.
J.A. Happ was the shining star this year, sporting a 20 win season, and having only 4 losses on his season.
Aaron Sanchez lived up to expectations, with a 15-2 record and an impressive 3.00 ERA in the hitter powered American League.
Marco Estrada and veteran R.A. Dickey rounded out the starting pitching staff, and with most of this unit expected to return the coming year should once again keep the Blue Jays in the conversation.
A strength of the Blue Jay pitching staff was talent and depth. Names like Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and Jesse Chavez were mainstays and the core of the bullpen this year. They served vital roles to in the success of the club by filling much needed relief innings, as any team who hopes to make a run must have. They provided not only electric stuff but also excellent flexibility permitting managers plenty of options in strategy.
Depth and matchup pitching was provided by the likes of Drew Storen, Gavin Floyd and Joaquin Benoit among others.
Roberto Osuna looks to have the Toronto Blue Jays set in terms of having a shut-the-door closer for years to come. All Osuna accomplished in 2016 was recording 36 saves while maintaining a sub 3 ERA (2.68). In addition to proving himself as a go to guy out of the bullpen, he managed to ring up 82 batters through 74 innings pitched while allowing a mere 55 hits.
If there was any chink in Osuna’s armor, it may be in his surrendering too many homers, 9 in all.
All these statistics should give Blue Jay fans reason to smile. If the batting continues, and with this group that shouldn’t be surprising but expected, and the pitching remains strong there is no reason to think that the Blue Jays won’t continue to compete for championships. No team bar one, ever finishes the season exactly the way the hope at the beginning of the season.
Don’t be shocked if Toronto represents the American League in next years World Series, had it not been for an untimely hitting slump, that may have been the story this year because the pitching was definately more than good enough.