We move on to the relief pitchers for the Dunedin Blue Jays, 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.
The Dunedin Blue Jays’ leader in relief appearances was lefty Jake Fishman. While not overpowering, the lefty has excellent sink on his pitches and he induced 46.9% of his batted balls on the ground. Fishman tossed 57 innings for the Blue Jays over 44 appearances and had a 2.68 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, striking out 24.8% of his opponents while walking only 4.9%. Fishman made a mid-season appearance with the Buffalo Bisons on June 26, throwing 1 1/3 innings, retiring all four batters he faced with one strikeout. Fishman can probably pitch in New Hampshire next year and will likely get a chance at some point but his starting level can’t be guaranteed.
made 35 appearances with Dunedin logging 45 2/3 innings, posting a 4.14 ERA and 1.66 WHIP, striking out 12.8% of batters and walking 6.2%. The 25-year-old non-drafted free agent had a solid season for the D-Jays and was well-used by manager Casey Candaele. I’m not sure if he’ll move up with a lot of competition for bullpen spots in New Hampshire next year.
Connor Eller, 24, had a 4.14 ERA in a swingman role with the Dunedin Blue Jays, making 12 starts and throwing 79 2/3 innings. Eller had a 1.57 WHIP with a 15.0% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rate. Eller made a May appearance with the Buffalo Bisons, giving up five runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings, walking a batter. Starting towards the end of July, Eller moved into the Dunedin rotation and actually had better numbers with a 4.34 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in that role as opposed to a 5.13 ERA and 1.86 WHIP as a reliever, although his OPS against was .758 as a starter and .788 as a reliever. Look for him back in Dunedin next year.
Hard-throwing righty Ty Tice made the most of his second year as a professional, spending most of his season with the Dunedin Blue Jays. The 22 year old was the 16th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2017 and he utterly dominated in 10 outings in Lansing, tossing nine innings with a 0.00 ERA, allowing only one unearned run on five hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts before moving up to Dunedin. There he posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, striking out 21.6% of batters while walking 10.3% in 50 innings. For someone who isn’t the tallest pitcher (Tice is listed at 5-foot-9), he surprisingly had a very good groundball rate in Dunedin, getting 48.9% of balls in play in the ground. He could move to New Hampshire but I wouldn’t be surprised if he started back in Dunedin for the first part of 2019.
Jonathan Cheshire, 23, also made it to Dunedin in his second professional season after being a 36th-round draft pick in 2017. Cheshire made 33 appearances and threw 51 innings, posting an excellent 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, putting him in the running for Reliever of the Year. Cheshire struck out 21.3% of batters and walked only 5.7% and got 54.2% of his balls in play on the ground, giving him a very solid profile moving forward. Like many reliever who spent most of the year with Dunedin, his season-opening promotion is not guaranteed but his solid season in 2018 helps his case.
Jackson McClelland, 24, blossomed in 2017 and found some increased velocity. In 2018, he flashed that velocity but also dealt with some injuries and wasn’t as consistently dominant as he was in 2017. McClelland, who hit triple digits on the radar gun in 2018, pitched to a 4.10 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings with Dunedin but he missed some time from the end of April to mid-May. While he was lights out in April, he struggled in May and gave up a lot of hard contact (with two doubles and three home runs against) before slamming the door shut in July, limiting hitters to a .432 OPS in that month (including a .161 SLG) and he was rewarded with an August promotion to New Hampshire. McClelland maintained his 30.2% strikeout rate after his promotion, striking out 28.1% of batters but the walk rate, which he had under control in Dunedin (10.1%) started to balloon in New Hampshire (15.6%) although the sample size of 6 1/3 innings was pretty small and he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and five walks with nine strikeouts. McClelland is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December and the Jays have a tough decision. Power arms like his don’t just grow on trees and he’s been sent to the Arizona Fall League for the second time to see if he will merit adding to the 40-man roster.
24-year-old Venezuelan lefty Juliandry Higuera had a tough season with the Dunedin blue Jays, making 28 appearances and throwing 43 innings with a 6.07 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. Higuera struck out 17.9% of batters but walked 12.2% and had a solid, 46.0%, groundball rate. Higuera finished the season with the Buffalo Bisons, giving up two runs on one hit and two walks with one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings. Higuera will be in the final year of his initial contract and could start in New Hampshire if the Blue Jays really want to see what they have in him.
After seven years in the Blue Jays’ organization, Angel Perdomo had shown a lot of potential but struggles staying healthy and remaining consistent have made it difficult to advance beyond A-ball. Perdomo, 24, didn’t get his season started until late Apriil and pitched out of the rotation mostly until July when he missed about three weeks due to injury. When he returned from injury, he was a reliever. Overall, in 26 appearances, including 12 starts, Perdomo had a 3.63 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 79 1/3 innings. He did show a tremendous ability to miss bats, striking out 29.4% of batters while walking 10.3% (down from 2017, also in Dunedin). The lefty didn’t have particularly big splits between lefties and righties, allowing a .659 OPS to lefthanded batters and a .692 OPS to righties while also showing similar splits as a starter and a reliever, posting a .676 OPS against as a starter and a .693 OPS against as a reliever. Notable was the fact that Perdomo walked far more batters (17 in 21 2/3 innings) coming out of the bullpen despite seeing a much higher strikeout rate. If he re-ups, look for Perdomo to move to New Hampshire, possibly in a relief role.
24-year-old Nick Hartman split his season between Dunedin and New Hampshire, making 21 appearances and throwing 30 innings with Dunedin and throwing 18 times with 28 1/3 innings as a Fisher Cat. Hartman had a 4.96 ERA with the Blue Jays in 16 1/3 innings before moving up to New Hampshire in mid-May and he was back in Dunedin at the beginning of August to finish his season in Florida. Overall, Hartman had a 4.80 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 30 innings with Dunedin, posting a stellar 27.5% strikeout rate and solid 7.3% walk rate. In 28 1/3 innings with New Hampshire, he had a 5.40 ERA and 1.84 WHIP, striking out only 15.4% and his walk rate ballooned to 11.8%. Look for Hartman back in New Hampshire next year.
Righty Andy Ravel spent his 2018 season in the bullpen after being a starter for his first two professional seasons. Now 24, Ravel was excellent to start the season with Lansing and made an appearance in Dunedin on May 5, giving up three runs (two earned) in two innings before heading back to lansing where he gave up runs in three of his next five outings. Despite the inconsistency, he was back in Dunedin at the beginning of June and stayed there for the rest of the season. Ravel tossed 21 1/3 innings in Lansing, posting a 3.80 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP, striking out 17.4% (his career high) and walking 7.6% of batters. In his time in Dunedin, he had a 6.85 ERA and 1.61 WHIP, striking out 16.5% of batters and walking 8.3%. I can see Ravel back in Dunedin next year.
The Blue Jays picked up 23-year-old righty Bryan Baker in a trade from the Colorado Rockies for cash in August. Pitching in the hitter-friendly California League (Advanced-A), Baker had a 3.80 ERA but a 1.80 WHIP, walking 15.7% of batters and striking out 26.9%. In the Florida State league, he threw 6 1/3 innings, showing his quality by striking out nine and walking just three batters, giving up two runs. At 6-foot-6, Baker is a big-bodied righty who might be a reliever who can move in the next couple of years.
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