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Roberto Osuna named Blue Jays closer

Roberto Osuna named Blue Jays closer

Posted by PanamericanWorld on March 30, 2016

Ezequiel Carrera, who played 91 games with the Jays last year, won the job of fourth outfielder ahead of Junior Lake and Darrell Ceciliani. 

Gibbons seemed to prefer Ceciliani, who had a tremendous camp, leading the team in hits (15) and tying for the team lead in home runs (4) and RBI (10). But Ceciliani had minor-league options, so could be demoted to the minors without having to clear waivers. 

Carrera, on the other hand, is out of options and would likely have been claimed by another team if he didn’t make the Jays. 

“So many guys had good springs, it was really some tough decisions,” Gibbons said. 

Osuna, about to begin his second year in the big leagues, said he was happy Gibbons and the coaching staff was confident with him as closer. 

“That means a lot for me and obviously I’m going to do my best.”

Once he was handed the closer’s job last season, Roberto Osuna never let go. He was the youngest pitcher in the big leagues, but he displayed a veteran’s poise with the game on the line. 

The hard-throwing right-hander earned his first save on June 22 and added 19 more before the season was through, becoming the first 20-year-old in more than 40 years to collect 20 saves. 

That body of work was enough to convince Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to leave him in the ninth-inning role ahead of Drew Storen, a six-year veteran acquired in the off-season from the Washington Nationals. 

“We like both of them, but I have a familiarity with Osuna,” Gibbons said Wednesday morning before embarking on the team’s final spring-training road trip to Fort Myers.

Storen, for whom the Jays traded outfielder Ben Revere in January, alternated in and out of the closer’s role during his six years with the Nationals. The pending free agent has 95 career saves to his name. Gibbons said he will be the eighth-inning setup man. 

In either case, the Jays figure to have a deeper bullpen at the start of this year compared to last. Lefty Brett Cecil, who didn’t allow a single earned run in the second half of last season, will join Osuna and Storen as the high-leverage triumvirate to preserve leads in close games. 

In front of them will be Jesse Chavez — a swingman who served mostly as a starter with the Oakland A’s but is expected to be used in middle relief with the Jays — and Gavin Floyd, who is the sixth starter on the depth chart and likely to pitch in long relief. 

The other spots in the bullpen were won by right-handers Ryan Tepera, Arnold Leon and Rule-5 pick Joe Biagini. The Jays will carry eight relievers rather than the usual seven for the first week of the season with Marco Estrada opening the year on the disabled list and the schedule allowing the team to use just four starters the first time through the rotation.

 

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