By Jay Blue
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.
The Blue Jays bolstered their 2017 bullpen with two free agent signings that looked to be relatively cheap additions with lots of upside. One of those signings worked out extremely well but the other was J.P. Howell.
Howell, 34, signed with the Blue Jays in the off-season for $3 million after a decent season with the L.A. Dodgers in 2016. Howell had been outstanding with the Dodgers in 2015, posting a 1.43 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, pitching mostly as a specialist lefty. He had a 4.09 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 2016 over 50 2/3 but he wasn't particularly strong in spring training in 2017 with the Jays, allowing three runs on five hits and five walks in 6 1/3 innings despite striking out 10.
Howell opened the season by retiring the only batter he faced on April 3 but gave up two runs in his next appearance (blowing a save) and another run in his third outing of the year and Howell didn't get an out in either of those two latter appearances. He pitched a scoreless inning in his fourth appearance and finished April by getting one out and the win to end his April.
In May, Howell continued to be not so effective, walking four batters and striking out only two over five innings (in six appearances) while allowing two runs. After two appearances in June (including one where he allowed three runs over 1 2/3 innings while striking out three), he went on the disabled list only to return in August to appear three more times before the Blue Jays released him on August 20.
Overall, Howell threw 11 innings with the Blue Jays, posting a 7.36 ERA and 1.81 WHIP, walking seven and striking out six.
Clearly Howell doesn't figure in the Jays' plans for 2018 as a couple of homegrown lefty relievers have emerged from the Jays' bullpen including Tim Mayza and Matt Dermody.
Howell is currently a free agent.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: F
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!