8:00 PM ET – Detroit (2) vs. Oakland (2) – Justin Verlander (4.6 rWAR) vs. Sonny Gray (1.4 rWAR)
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The story of Steve Delabar is truly a remarkable one: a 29th round pick and would-be career minor leaguer who walked away from the game after a devastating elbow injury following six years as a pro, in his second season in independent league ball, Delabar became a teacher and a high school baseball coach, implemented an arm-strengthening program for his players, used it himself, found renewed velocity, then following a tryout ended up returning to baseball in the Mariners system, eventually working his way to the Majors, getting traded to Toronto, and becoming a 2013 All-Star.
A tremendous, bat-missing right-handed power reliever, Delabar looks like he could either be a fixture in the Jays’ bullpen for as long as his arm holds out, and as long as his command issues remain at bay. Yes, his second-half ERA ballooned to 7.02 from a 1.71 mark in the first half, but actually some of his peripherals got better over that span. His BABIP and HR/FB spiked, and his strand rate bottomed out– all of which to large enough degrees to feel comfortable they’ll regress to the mean, especially given that we’re only talking about a 16.2 second half inning sample that’s unduly impacted by an early August blown save in Anaheim. His walk rate actually went down by four percent, and his strikeout rate was up slightly, so there probably isn’t a whole lot to worry about.
Except, of course, his health.
Delabar missed most of August with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, then returned for September and– albeit in a small, nine-inning sample– had his worst full month of the season.
It would be silly to take his September swoon as too much of an ominous sign– I mean, his whole season comprised less than 60 innings– but… uh… weren’t the weighted balls supposed to be protecting Jays pitchers’ arms from stuff like this?
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