We move on to the relief pitchers for the Buffalo Bisons, looking at pitchers who made most of their appearances out of the bullpen.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most appearances and work our way downwards from there. If a player played for more than one team over the course of the season, he’ll be grouped according to the club he played the most with.
At 26, righty Conor Fisk took big strides in 2018 getting himself closer to his big league goal. The Wisconsin native started out his season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, throwing 15 innings without giving up an earned run and allowing just eight hits and five walks with 16 strikeouts before he was promoted to Buffalo. With the Bisons, he led the club with 34 appearances, tossing 57 2/3 innings with a 2.81 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, with a solid, 18.9% strikeout rate and a good 7.4% walk rate. Fisk was showing a fastball that was a fair bit harder than I had seen it before, siting in the mid-90s and, while he seems to have been a late bloomer, he could fit into a role at the back end of the Bisons’ bullpen in 2019 with a chance to get a call up at some point in the year.
Righty Justin Shafer also started the season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and he made 13 appearances in Double-A with a 0.52 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 17 1/3 innings, walking just five batters and striking out 17. Shafer moved up to the Buffalo Bisons towards the end of May and he picked up right where he left off, tossing 38 1/3 innings with a 1.41 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, striking out 20.4% of batters and walking 10.2%. Shafer earned a couple of looks in the majors and wound up with 8 1/3 innings in the big leagues, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits but he walked seven batters and struck out only two. Shafer, 26, will start 2019 in Buffalo but he could spend more time in Toronto.
31-year-old Murphy Smith became the oldest player to make his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays and he spent most of the year in Buffalo, posting a 3.59 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 62 2/3 innings with a 15.5% strikeout rate and 9.2% walk rate. In his 3 1/3 innings in Toronto, he allowed three runs on five hits and a walk and didn’t strike anyone out. Smith was sent outright to the minors and the elected free agency at the end of the season.
Al Alburquerque joined the Blue Jays on a minor league free agent contract and the 32 year old righty tossed 28 2/3 innings in 25 appearances with the Buffalo Bisons. With a 3.77 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, he struck out 22.0% and walked 6.5% before he was released on July 2.
25-year-old righty Taylor Guerrieri also made his major league debut for the Blue Jays in 2018. He was picked up from the Rays of waivers in the offseason and made 23 appearances with the Buffalo Bisons (including seven starts), tossing 57 1/3 innings with a 5.18 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, striking out 15.8% and walking 8.5% of batters. With the Blue Jays, Guerrieri threw 9 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and four walks with eight strikeouts. Guerrieri was sent outright to Buffalo and he elected free agency.
38-year-old lefty Craig Breslow split his time between New Hampshire and Buffalo this season, spending a significant amount of time on the DL. He tossed eight innings in New Hampshire, posting a 5.63 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, striking out eight and walking nine in eight innings. His Buffalo numbers were worse, as he gave up 29 hits in 19 1/3 innings and walked 15 to give him a 2.28 WHIP (and 5.59 ERA) with 21 strikeouts. Breslow elected free agency following the season.
Lefty Tim Mayza spent his Age 26 season bouncing back and forth between Buffalo and Toronto, making more appearances at the big league level. In 25 2/3 innings with the Bisons, he had a 4.56 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, striking out a whopping 32.7% of batters and walking 10.0%. In Toronto, he threw 35 2/3 innings with a 1.32 WHIP and maintained a solid strikeout rate of 26.5% while walking 9.3%. With Aaron Loup traded, it looks like Mayza could be the first lefty out of the ‘pen in 2019 with Toronto.
Luis Santos, 27, split his season between Toronto and Buffalo, making 20 appearances with the Bisons and posting a very strong 2.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, striking out 21.4% and walking 7.0%. In the major leagues, he increased his strikeout rate to 26.4% but walked 11.0% and he was hit much harder, giving up 16 runs in 20 innings with a 7.20 ERA and 1.80 WHIP. Santos elected free agency following the season.
Jake Petricka, 30, also spent a significant chunk of his season in Toronto in 2019. Petricka was outstanding in Buffalo, throwing 23 innings with just a 0.78 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, striking out 15.9% of batters and walking 5.7%. With Toronto, Petricka was used a fair bit, throwing 45 2/3 innings with a 4.53 ERA and 1.64 WHIP, increasing his strikeout rate to 19.7% but his walk rate increased to 7.7% and he also got hit much harder. Petricka became a free agent at the end of the season.
Sam Moll, 26, was sent outright to Buffalo at the end of spring training and he didn’t pitch a ton for the Buffalo Bisons due to injury. In 18 2/3 innings, he had a 5.30 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, striking out 19 and walking only five. Look for him back in Buffalo in 2019.
After bouncing around the minors for several years, Zach Stewart went to New Britain of the Atlantic League and tossed 68 1/3 innings for them, posting a 3.42 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, striking out 42 and walking 23 over 11 starts. Picked up by the Blue Jays, he made 14 appearances for the Bisons, starting four games and posting a 4.98 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over 34 1/3 innings with just 19 strikeouts and 12 walks. He chose free agency.
Danny Barnes, did not have his best season in 2018, putting some time in on the DL while also pitching a little in Buffalo. That said, Barnes only made seven appearances with the Bisons, tossing 8 2/3 innings but he gave up five runs on nine hits but walked one and struck out 11. In the majors, he had a 5.71 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP in 41 innings, striking out 19.9% of batters and walking 11.5%, both were off of his 2017 totals (23.4% K% and 9.1% BB%). Look for Barnes back in Toronto to start 2019.
Carlos Ramirez broke into the big leagues in 2017 and it was thought that the Blue Jays would put him back there eventually in 2018. He pitched in seven games in Buffalo, giving up five runs on two hits and eight walks with 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings and pitched twice with Toronto, walking five with three strikeouts and one run allowed in 2 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays in May and was claimed by the Oakland A’s where he bounced between Triple-A Nashville and the majors. He threw 40 2/3 innings with the Nashville Sounds, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, and his strikeout rate was 22.9% but he brought his walk rate down to a respectable 10.0%. In Oakland, he gave up two runs on two hits with four walks and two strikeouts in six innings. He elected free agency after he was sent to the minors outright.
Lefty Matt Dermody made five appearances with the Buffalo Bisons, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings after he was sent outright back to the Bisons from the major league roster towards the end of spring training. Dermody spent the rest of the season injured, going on the DL retroactive to April 29.
Another lefty, Chad Girodo, allowed five runs on seven hits, three of which were home runs, while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings before he was released by the Blue Jays on April 25. He caught on with the Dodgers and pitched a combined 19 2/3 innings at two levels without much success before he was released by the Dodgers. He finished his season pitching for Chicago’s independent American Association team, posting a 4.37 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 22 2/3 innings, walking six and striking out 19.
Preston Guilmet, 31, started off in the St. Louis organization, tossing 29 outstanding innings for Louisville with a 0.93 ERA and 0.48 WHIP, striking out 35 batters and walking only five but he wasn’t good in his call up to the big leagues, allowing five runs on seven hits (including two home runs) with three strikeouts in two innings. Placed on waivers, he was claimed by the Blue Jays and he got into six games in the majors, allowing eight runs on 11 hits and four walks (with four home runs) in eight innings, striking out five. Clearing waivers, Guilmet went to the minors and only pitched twice for the Bisons thanks to injury issues. He allowed three runs on seven hits (including two home runs) with a walk and two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He elected free agency at the end of the year.
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