Who should the Jays turn to in save situations?
By Cole Shelton
Canadian Baseball Network
By now you've probably heard the news that Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with assault in Toronto early on Tuesday.
The Toronto Blue Jays closer is now on administrative leave from the club pending further investigation by the police and Major League Baseball.
The Blue Jays now have to decide who will be the closer in Osuna's absence. Luckily for them, they have some good options to pitch in save opportunities.
While pitching in Korea, Oh earned the nickname "The Final Boss" because he is considered one of the greatest closers in the country's history. Oh also has ninth-inning experience in North America. In 2016 with the St. Louis Cardinals, he saved 19 games in 23 attempts and posted a 1.72 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in late games and close opportunities. His 2017 campaign with the Cards wasn't as successful but he did manage to notch 20 saves despite a lofty 4.10 ERA.
Why Oh makes sense to be the closer is quite simple. He has done it before, but also, Oh uses six pitches which makes it harder for batters to guess which pitch he will throw. The 35-year-old right-hander has also been impressive in the eighth and ninth innings this year, pitching to a perfect 0.00 ERA. Also, in late games/close opportunities, Oh has a .086 WHIP.
Oh may be the best option for Toronto to close out games for the time being as he has proven he can be a successful closer.
Just like Oh, Clippard has been a closer in the big leagues before and has done it rather effectively. Throughout his MLB career, Clippard has saved 61 games while also being an All-Star reliever in 2011 and 2014 with the Washington Nationals.
Clippard has three pitches and he has used them effectively this season. In 18 1/3 innings, he possesses a 1.47 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. When Clippard was the closer for the Nationals in 2012, he had a 1.25 WHIP in late games/close opportunities and a 1.00 WHIP in the ninth inning. This season, Clippard has a 0.90 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in late games/close opportunities with the Blue Jays.
Employing Clippard as the closer is another solid option for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) has revived his career in Toronto after a disastrous 2017 season. So far in 2018, he has posted a 1.56 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings out of the Blue Jays' pen.
Like Oh and Clippard, Axford has been an elite big league closer. In 2011, the Canadian right-hander recorded 46 saves with the Milwaukee Brewers and he followed that up with 35 saves the following campaign.
In 2018, in two innings in late games/close opportunities, Axford owns a 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. The veteran reliever has shown he can be a capable closer and is pitching as good as anyone in the bullpen.
Closer by Committee
For the next few games, this makes the most sense as Gibbons has a lot of options he can turn to in save situations. The three mentioned above make the most sense to be the full-time closer, but depending on matchups and who has pitched already, Gibbons can also turn to Ryan Tepera — who has been an effective set-up man — or possibly Aaron Loup, although that seems unlikely. Another name to throw into the hat will be Danny Barnes, who will likely be recalled from triple-A Buffalo soon.
No matter what the Blue Jays do they have a lot of capable pitchers to close out games. It will be quite interesting to see who they decide to turn to.