The 2023 Blue Jays, Position by Position: Toronto has an embarrassing amount of depth for their bullpen

The Blue Jays’ bullpen has gotten better since the 2022 season but has also barely changed.

In fact, the Blue Jays have so much bullpen depth, that their Triple-A team’s bullpen is starting to look like a solid MLB team’s bullpen
In this article, we’ll look at the seven locks for the bullpen, pitchers who could fill the eighth spot, as well as the depth in the minor leagues… There are a lot of notable pitchers, so buckle in.
The locks:
Here we’ll look at the seven locks, as well as Chad Green who is rehabbing from Tommy John.
Jordan Romano:
The undisputed Blue Jays closer. Last season, Romano had a 2.11 ERA and a 2.82 FIP in 64 innings pitched, which was his best season overall. Moreover, he had a 28.3 K% (down from 33.6% in 2021) and an 8.1 BB%. Romano also registered 36 saves in 42 attempts. 

Jordan Romano, K’ing the Side.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 27, 2022

I’d expect him to have an even better season in 2023.
Anthony Bass:
The 35-year-old was re-acquired by the Blue Jays at the 2022 deadline along with Zach Pop for Jordan Groshans.
Between the Marlins and the Jays, Bass had a 1.54 ERA and a 3.00 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched. To go along with this, he had a career-high 26.5 K% and his 7.3 BB% was one of the lowest in his career. Overall, he had a 19.3 K-BB%, the highest in his 11-year MLB career.

Here’s Anthony Bass (@AnthonyBass52)’ strikeout thread from this afternoon!
93 mph fastball!#BlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) February 28, 2023

His role is to be determined, but the addition of Bass was great.
Tim Mayza:
Mayza could potentially be the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen to start the season.

Tim Mayza vs Kevin Kiermaier in live BP #Bl …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #15 Josh Kasevich

It’s been a while since a 2022 draftee was ranked on Blue Jays Nation’s Top 50, but that changes with this article.

Josh Kasevich is an intriguing prospect, as he has a great hit tool and will be able to stick at shortstop as he’s a great defender.
However, we’ll look at the criteria before taking a deep dive.
Brennan’s criteria:
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible for that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll review their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and give a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Josh Kasevich’s career so far:
The 21-year-old (who’ll turn 22 a day after this article is published) was drafted in the second round of the 2022 dr …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays re-sign pitcher Casey Lawrence to a minor league deal

Since it is Tuesday, it means it’s time for a transaction!

Per MiLB-Transactions (which monitors the transactions page), the Blue Jays have re-signed right-handed pitcher Casey Lawrence to a minor league deal.

#BlueJays have re-signed RHP Casey Lawrence to a minor league contract.
— MiLB-Transactions (@tombaseball29) January 3, 2023

The 35-year-old was one of the best pitchers in Triple-A last season, registering a 2.79 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 126 innings pitched. While his 21.9 K% wasn’t incredibly high, he has one of the lowest BB%s in the Jays organization at 3.5%. Lawrence was the only full-time starter with the Bisons throughout the 2022 season.

Here’s Casey Lawrence (@caseylawrence)’s strikeout thread from the 21st.
Curveball I think.#BlueJays #NextLevel
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) September 26, 2022

His MLB tenure in 2022 wasn’t as great though. He posted a 7.50 ERA and a 6.33 FIP in 18 innings, which also saw a 13.9 K% and 5.1 BB%. It just seems as if he can’t figure it out at the major league level, as he has a career 6.80 ERA and 5.31 FIP in 96.2 innings. However, he was fairly unlucky with the Jays last season, as you can see in the clip below.

ahh yes, the ol’ alley-oop
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) July 8, 2022

In early November, Lawrence had previously been outrighted off the 40-man roster where he chose free agency. The plan for Lawrence is likely to use him as a mentor, as there will be quite young pitchers heading to Triple-A to start the 2023 season. Worst case, Lawrence may get another shot at the big leagues, where he’ll hopefully have more luck.
It’s never a bad thing to have more depth, so I like this signing! Hopefully, the Jays will add more starters to minor-league deals soon.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D.

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Newfoundland Growlers are a wagon: Report from the Rock

The Newfoundland Growlers are a wagon: Report from the Rock

Since the inception of the Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ vision for their ECHL affiliate was to make this team a true development pipeline, a place for young players to get accustomed to the organization’s systems, culture, and the way they intend to win it all someday. 12 games into the 2022-23 ECHL season and we can declare it: the Leafs have themselves a group of stone-cold killers stashed away in this tier of AAA professional men’s hockey.
The Growlers have started their season with a pristine 11-0-1 record, they currently sit on top of the entire league by a narrow three point margin (their division rivals, the Worcester Railers, sit in second place) and, unsurprisingly, numerous members of the team sit on top of the league leaders lists. Zach O’Brien and Orrin Centazzo, both on AHL contracts with the Marlies are #1 and 2 on the scoring list, O’Brien with a ridiculous 24 points in 12 games and Centazzo with 19 in 12. Tied with five other forwards for fourth place in league scoring is another AHL contracted player in Zach Solow (14 points)
Between the pipes, both goaltenders assigned to the Growlers from the Marlies have been beyond stellar. Dryden McKay picked up …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Which zones do Leafs players thrive in?

It’s been a while since I sat down and did some high school math level analysis of the Leafs, and that’s exactly what I did last night. I was curious about what parts of the rink Leafs players are thriving in and how tilted are the Leafs towards being an offensive team.
I decided to start by putting the 5v5 for and against stats for Corsi, goals, and expected goals into league-wide percentiles (with a minimum of 200 minutes played) and then looking at the trends around the for and against stats while factoring in time on ice to identify any excessive sheltering. (For example, Nic Aube-Kubel had strong defensive numbers, but was heavily sheltered, only playing in the 7th percentile of 5v5 ice time.)
I broke the players into the following groups with the following definitions:
200ft player: They would need to be above the 70th percentile in both for and against stats, as well as being in the 70th percentile for time on ice. Basically, you can’t be a 200-foot player if your coach is afraid to put you out there.
Offensive player: You are in the 70th percen …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Similarities Between Kevin Gausman and Pedro Martinez, and thoughts on the Blue Jays’ Ace Righty

Since the turn of the century, there have only been four full seasons in which an American League starter has posted a FIP of less than 2.25…

Pedro Martinez, 2002 (2.24 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2003 (2.21 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2000 (2.17 FIP)
Kevin Gausman, 2022 (2.01 FIP)
The side note to this is that Shane Bieber technically did it too, with a 2.07 FIP in 2020. The reason that’s easily excludable though, is that Bieber only pitched 77.0 innings, and all of them were against statistically weaker Central division teams.
So, since 2000, the only American League pitchers that have been this good are Pedro Martinez and Kevin Gausman. But the similarities between the righties don’t stop there. Let’s take a closer look.

The extent to which Martinez and Gausman are similar does not start early.
Pedro spent his first two years as a Dodger, where he didn’t often make starts, but was a great impact pitcher out of the bullpen. He only pitched 115 innings in L.A. but had a sub-3.00 ERA and FIP. After the 1993 season, the Dodgers made what has to be considered one of the worst trades in franchise history. Manager Tommy Lasorda, in need of a second baseman and not believing Pedro to be a starting pitcher, dealt the young right-hander to Montreal for the original Delino DeShields. DeShields was a very good Expo, he had recorded 11.6 fWAR and a 111 wRC+ in the four seasons prior to making his move to the City of Angels. He was, however, an okay Dodger at best. He only spent three seasons there, was a 20 percent below-average hitter, and averaged 0.9 fWAR per season.
Pedro Martinez was just a little bit better as an Expo. He averaged 5.0 fWAR per season, including a whopping 8.5 in 1997, the year in which he won his first …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Checking in on how the Blue Jays’ 2022 draft picks and undrafted free agent signs are doing so far

It’s been just over a month now since the 2022 MLB draft, so it’s time to look at how each player is doing!

We’ll be going in the order in which they were drafted, starting with the 23rd overall pick, then the 60th overall, and then so on and so forth.
We’ll also be looking at how the undrafted free agents have been doing, as they’ve also put up some interesting numbers.
As most of these players have played with the Dunedin Blue Jays, we’ll be able to look at exit velocity data and pitching velocity. Here’s the database for every single batted ball in play for the 2022 Dunedin Blue Jays.
Brandon Barriera:
The Blue Jays’ first-round draftee has yet to make his professional debut. In fact, it’s unlikely he will make his debut in 2022.  It’s been reported that the 18-year-old lefty will work at the complex in Florida, much like how the Blue Jays’ third-rounder, Ricky Tiedemann did last season.
Hopefully, Barriera is able to rise up the ranks like Tiedemann has done this season.
Josh Kasevich:
The 21-year-old shortstop who was chosen 60th overall was assigned to the Dunedin Blue Jays in Low A. He’s slashing .234/.294/.277 with no homers in 51 plate appearances. Kasevich has avoided strikeouts, as his 7.8 K% is the lowest amongst this group of players, but he’s only walked 5.9% of the time. He has a 69 (nice) wRC+ for the season
Out of all the drafted players that landed in Dunedin, Kasevich has the lowest average exit velocity at 82.55 mph. He has a hard hit percentage of 23.26 (second lowest), and his maximum exit velocity sits at 104.3 mph.
Tucker Toman:
Selected with the 77th overa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation