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We continue to look at the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays by looking at one of the busiest relievers on the Blue Jays’ staff: Anthony Bass.
Bass was a fifth-round draftee of the San Diego Padres back in 2008 and reached the major leagues in 2011, throwing 27 games (including three starts) with the Padres with a stellar 1.68 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out 24 and walking 21 in 48 1/3 innings. He started 15 games the next year with the Pads, making 24 appearances and logging 97 innings with a 4.73 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, cutting his walk rate down considerably and having a 1.32 WHIP. He struggled in 2013 in a relief role and was traded to Houston after the season and continued to struggle, getting just 27 innings with a 6.33 ERA in 2014.
Staying in Texas in 2015, he logged 64 innings for the Rangers and went to Japan in 2016 where he had a 3.58 ERA in 110 2/3 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Returning to the Rangers in 2017, it appears that he struggled with injury and was in the minors for most of the year, posting a 4.18 ERA with Triple-A Round Rock before signing a minor league deal with the Cubs following the season. He split 2018 between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago, putting up some of the best numbers of his career in the majors. In 16 appearances in 2018, Bass had a 2.93 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking just three. He started the 2019 season in Triple-A with the Reds pitched well, likely exercising an opt out on May 20 to sign a major league deal with the Mariners. There he posted a 3.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, striking out 43 and walking 17 in 48 innings.
Bass was put through waivers after the season by Seattle and the Blue Jays claimed him, giving him a $1.5 million contract to avoid arbitration. In the spring, Bass was fine, throwing six times for 5 1/3 innings with two runs against, allowing four hits and no walks with four strikeouts. When things got underway, Bass quickly became one of Charlie Montoyo‘s go-to relievers, logging 25 2/3 innings in 26 appearances and he had a 3.51 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, striking out 21 batters and walking nine. That gave him 0.5 WAR (according to Fangraphs) and he was very good at avoiding barrels (in the 96th percentile, according to Baseball Savant).
The fact that he was used so often (20 of his 26 appearances came with zero, one or two days of rest and 15 of them were with zero or one day of rest), coupled with the fact that he was often used in the late-going, coming in 22 of 26 times in the eighth or ninth inning, shows how much Montoyo trusted him. And, when Ken Giles and Jordan Romano were injured, he inherited the closer’s role, earning a career-high seven saves.
Bass had a very strong year with the Blue Jays, helping to solidify their bullpen, no matter how banged up it got. The Jays relied heavily on Bass in 2020 but he’s a free agent now and could earn a little more than what the Jays paid him in his next contract.
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