2016 Blue Jays Season Review: Roberto Osuna

By: Jay Blue and @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays From Away

Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.

Roberto Osuna, the 21-year-old Mexican fireballer burst onto the season in 2015 as the youngest player in major league baseball, making the Blue Jays’ bullpen out of spring training and emerging as the closer by the end of the year. In 2016, rather than try to extend Osuna out into a starter’s role, the Blue Jays decided to leave him in the ‘pen, allowing him to blossom at the back end, securing games in the late innings.

Osuna was certainly a stabilizing force in the bullpen, throwing 74 innings and amassing 36 saves and posting 1.8 fWAR with his 2.68 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, lowering his walk rate to just 4.9% and raising his strikeout rate to 28.5%. On the downside, he did blow six saves, but really, there weren’t any downsides to Osuna’s season.

The Blue Jays were also leaning heavily on the young righty, and he saw more outings of over an inning than he had in the previous year, particularly down the stretch. In September and October, he exceeded one inning of work four times, including three outings in a row.

 

In the postseason, Osuna was used in the same, multi-inning role early on, throwing five innings in his first three outings, striking out six, walking none and giving up just one hit combined against Texas and Baltimore. Against Cleveland, he wasn't quite unhittable but gave up three hits and no runs without walking anyone while striking out four in four innings.

If the Blue Jays are looking around the majors and seeing pitchers like Andrew Miller called upon for multiple-inning outings and seeing that Osuna could be used in a similar manner, I’m all for it. I’m looking forward to a 100-inning Osuna.

Contract Status

Osuna has one more year before he’s eligible for arbitration.

Emily Says

On April 3rd, Roberto Osuna‘s first appearance of the season, he set an MLB record as the youngest pitcher ever to earn a save on Opening Day. He threw one inning against the Rays, allowing one hit and striking out two. The 21-year-old set another record in August, becoming the youngest pitcher in MLB history to reach 47 saves. He had 20 in 2015 and 36 in 2016, giving him 56 already in his career. He blew 6 this season, but on two of those occasions the Jays battled back and won the game anyways.

Osuna retained his role as the Jays’ closer, typically throwing one inning per outing, the 9th. On a few occasions he was required to get four outs. He didn’t allow a run for his first five appearances of the season, until April 17, when he allowed two runs on two hits (one homer) in a non-save situation in Boston. He allowed two more runs (one earned) over 10.1 total innings in April, for a 2.61 monthly ERA.

In May he did not allow a single run over the course of 13.2 innings in 14 games. Twice he pitched on three consecutive days. He allowed five hits, five walks (one intentional) and had 16 strikeouts in May. He blew one save in the month, when he entered a tie game and allowed two inherited runners to score. Osuna got his 100th major-league strikeout on May 29th – it was Alex Rodriguez, the same batter against whom Osuna had recorded his first career strikeout.

In June he had a few struggles, including one blown save – he allowed seven earned runs on fourteen hits in 11.2 innings. June was his worst monthly ERA – 5.40 – but he accumulated 18 strikeouts and only one unintentional walk. He bounced back in July, again not allowing a run in 11.2 innings over 12 games. He gave up four hits, just one walk, and hit two batters. His monthly WHIP was 0.43.

August saw a few more rough outings, including a heartbreaking blown save in Cleveland on the 19th that was tied with a home run, then walked off on an inside-the-park homer. He allowed six runs, four of them homers, over 10.2 innings for an ERA of 5.06. In September he fared slightly better, again allowing six runs but over 13 innings in 12 games. His September ERA was 4.15.

On October 2nd, his second-last outing of the year, he allowed an inherited runner to score on a balk, which tied the game and earned him a blown save. The Jays would go on to score in the next inning and win the game, giving Osuna the win in the process.

Osuna’s ERA for the season was 2.68, his WHIP 0.93, and his opponent’s average .206. He racked up 82 strikeouts and just 14 walks (four intentional) and allowed more than 2 walks in a month just once – when he had five in May. His K/BB ratio was a remarkable 5.86.

Osuna appeared in seven of the nine postseason games for the Jays, and didn’t allow a run in any of them. He was removed after an inning and a third due to concern over his elbow in the wild card game. He pitched an inning and two-thirds with one hit allowed in ALDS Game 2, then the hitless 9th and 10th innings of ALDS Game 3, earning the win when the Jays walked it off and clinched the series.

He threw one inning each in Games 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the ALCS, allowing three hits over that span and no walks for the entire playoffs. He struck out ten.

Regular Season Grades

Jay: A
Emily: A-

Postseason Grades

Jay: A+
Emily: A+