Bullpen depth is an asset desired by many and possessed by few in Major League Baseball, but it could also be an area wherein the Toronto Blue Jays enjoy a distinct edge this season.
No, Jon Rauch, who signed a one-year / $3.5 million contract with the Jays on Monday, is not the kind of dominating closer that warrants his own heavy metal intro or shortens games by an inning. The Twins’ 21-save stopper from a year ago does, however, add a reliable lefty arm to an increasingly deep relief corps.
After all, the tallest Blue Jay since Mark Hendrickson (hopefully more effective, though) averaged 3.29 strikeouts for every walk registered last season (46 K’s to just 14 base on balls) and did not surrender a run in any of his last eight regular season appearances with the Twins as they secured the AL Central title.
Much will be made of the closer battle between winter signees Rauch and Octavio Dotel, both of whom possess closing experience, impressive stuff and similar contracts. But the team is in a no-lose situation over the prospect of two experienced late inning arms who, along with the returning Jason Frasor, will all come into play as part of a set-up and close arrangement.
Rauch’s signing, likely the final relief piece to be added this off-season, sets into motion some of the bullpen battles that are sure to brew come Spring Training:
- the closer fight between Rauch, Dotel and Frasor
- the late inning clash between David Purcey and the two non-closers
- a battle for the remaining four or five bullpen spots that’ll include some favourites (Shawn Camp, Carlos Villanueva and Jesse Carlson) and a few long shots (Rommie Lewis, Josh Roenicke and maybe Zack Stewart)
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Written by Ben Fisher