Archive for the ‘Casey Janssen’ Category

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If Casey Janssen hasn’t quite looked himself this spring, it has been tough to tell, as we’ve rather gotten used to him starting slowly in camp, and defying expectations that come from looking at the effort he puts into every pitch, the sublime precision he relies on, and the radar gun. His velocity was down this spring, however, and it took until March 24th for him to make his full-fledged spring debut, having been set back earlier in camp due to soreness in his shoulder. Supposedly healthy, he pitched three innings in a week, culminating in a less-than-sharp Friday night performance in Montreal, giving up a run on a pair of doubles in the fifth inning, with no strikeouts.

But the thing about that “supposedly healthy” bit is… perhaps he wasn’t.

At least it’s not the shoulder — at least not according to the word of the club — but per a team release this afternoon, Janssen has been placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back/left abdominal strain, and Erik Kratz has been recalled. The DL stint has been backdated to yesterday (March 29th), making him eligible to come off it on April 13th — a Sunday on which the club will be in Baltimore.

It’s a loss of a key piece of the Jays’ puzzle at a time when they absolutely do not need it, to be sure, but it’s also merely the loss of a one-inning guy at the back of a stacked bullpen, and a guy who we know can pitch effectively through pain and should ultimately be fine. That’s not to say that Janssen’s not great, it’s just… perspective, y’know?

The bullpen, somewhat surprisingly, now goes back down to seven men, with Sergio Santos the likeliest choice to take over the closer’s role. Even more surprising, though, is the addition of Kratz. Or, in the parlance of the internet “another fucking catcher???”

The thing about that is, it seems a fair reward for the big spring that he had, and — provided he keeps hitting like it’s Dunedin and he’s facing minor league scrubs and not the David Price’s of the world — he gives them an OK right-handed bat off the bench. Miiiiiiiight have preferred to see them bring up a guy who can be a true backup in centre, and can pinch run in late game situations, but it’s not like this is indefensible. And @james_in_to points out that BuckJerry noted yesterday that Dioner Navarro was wearing a pad to protect his forearm, which might be a sign that he’s not 100%. I don’t know about all that — he’s a catcher, is he ever going to be 100% — but maybe?

More likely, though, I think it’s about taking the hot bat, and giving the guy a longer look against better pitching. I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if Josh Thole goes down when all is said and done, even. We shall see! Starting damn tomorrow! (At Opera Bob’s!)

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Casey Janssen, if you look at the overall numbers, had his third straight tremendous year in 2013. An ERA of 2.56, a WHIP below 1.00, 34 saves compared to just two blown (if you’re into that sort of thing), and using FanGraphs’ WPA-based metric, 36 shut downs compared to just six meltdowns.

By every standard, he’s been terrific. Over the last three years, by FanGraphs’ ERA- stat, his mark of 59 in the top ten in all of baseball among pitchers with more than 150 innings. That’s just a shade ahead of Clayton Kershaw– which isn’t a great comparison, granted, given that Kershaw provides boatloads more value by pitching so many more innings, and has a much tougher task by having to turn lineups over multiple times… but still!

Among relievers, he’s comfortably among the elite ones by that metric, behind Kimbrel, Koji, David Robertson, Greg Holland, Sergio Romo and Brad Ziegler, and ahead of Aroldis Chapman, Mike Adams, Joe Smith, Kenley Jansen, and many, many others.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Janssen cementing himself as one of the top relievers in the game: many Jays fans, myself included, started having trouble believing what they were seeing.

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Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays

Guys, I actually was asking around this week to scouts, and to front office types, who were telling me that, generally, the relief market is going to be weak this year. A couple names to keep in mind: Jesse Crain of the White Sox has been throwing the ball really well. Casey Janssen, the closer for the Toronto Blue Jays is another guy who is gaining some notice among teams.

Those were the exact words of Buster Olney during the top of the seventh inning of last night’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the Braves’ 3-0 win over the Giants, and though they are entirely fucking inoffensive and uncontroversial, why the hell should that stop Jays fans from getting their underthings in a twist about it, as though the club’s management themselves have added Janssen’s name to the Trading Block like they’re some fantasy league owner?

Witness:

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Well here’s exactly what you didn’t want to hear. Mike Cormack of Sportsnet passes along a clip from this morning’s Brady and Lang show on the Fan 590, in which Casey Janssen dropped by. Here’s what the Jays’ closer laid on us when the subject of his off-season shoulder “clean-up” arose:

“I’m feeling good. I’m not 100% just yet, but, again, having a little bit of extra time in the spring is going to help. I’m going to use every bit of the spring to get to that 100% level. But, as far as I’m concerned, I think April 2nd is very, very realistic, and things are going good.”

He’s choice of words makes it seem like he’s certainly looking at the glass half full here, and I don’t want to overblow this, but the implication that Opening Day is merely “realistic”– even if “very, very realistic”– is at least a little bit troubling. Right?

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It appears to have been of the minor variety– if there even is such a thing when it comes to surgery on a pitcher’s shoulder– but according to a team release, the Jays’ closer “underwent successful right shoulder surgery to repair lingering AC joint soreness on Friday, November 16.”

What month is this, June? I thought we were done with this shit!

“Janssen, 31,” the release continues, “had the small portion of the end of his clavicle shaved down to relieve the discomfort. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles and the 6-3, 204 lb. right-hander is expected to be ready for spring training.”

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Casey Janssen pitched a clean ninth– the first time the Jays have received one in a save situation all season– as Brandon Morrow dropped the ground ball act, and three maligned hitters powered the Jays over the A’s to salvage a spit in their mini-series, and a split of their west coast swing, that tonight takes them back to the interior of the continent, as they visit Minnesota.

It’s a pretty fucking rosy, borderline disingenuous thing to say, but before the road trip began– and before the first two spectacular games against against the Angels, and a close loss in the third– I’m pretty sure we’d have taken a .500 record heading into Minnesota. So, as long as we can keep out of our heads how the three losses went down– especially the first one in Oakland– and how the filth being tossed by Morrow and Alvarez in Anaheim made it seem like the Jays had a real shot at having an actual winning trip out west for once, it really hasn’t gone so badly.

Better– and perhaps more ingenuous– still is how, while he’s hardly perfect, the Jays have a manager who is at least eventually able to come around to the side of common goddamn sense when it comes to some of the screamingly obvious problems with the way he’s been running the club. And, let’s be honest, if he reacted as hastily as fans they’re entitled to have him do, there’d be a new closer after every blow save, and massive changes in the lineup every week. So I get that Farrell has to walk the fine line between showing faith in his players, not creating an atmosphere where everybody is looking over their shoulder after every bad day, and doing right by the rest of the team by getting shitbags out of positions where they’re costing games and runs.

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