We move on to the relief pitchers for the Lansing Lugnuts, 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.
Righty Dany Jimenez, 24, led the Lansing Lugnuts with 38 appearances and 63 1/3 innings. He pitched for his first time in full-season ball and had a solid 3.84 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, striking out 29.2% of batters and walking 8.8% while getting good 43.3% ground ball rate. I can see Jimenez, who found sharpness as the season went on and was relied upon to save 13 games, moving up to Dunedin next year.
Kyle Weatherly, now 24, was second on the club with 36 appearances and started nine games while throwing 87 2/3 innings. Weatherly bounced back from a rough 2017 in Lansing (but better results in Vancouver) with a very strong 2018, posting a 3.70 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, striking out 15.5% and walking 7.9%. He could also be in Dunedin next year and has some versatility as either a starter or reliever.
22-year-old lefty Brody Rodning made 35 appearances with the Lugnuts and had a 3.89 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 69 1/3 innings. He struck out a very solid 20.4% of batters and walked 8.2% for a strong season overall. He’ll likely move up to Dunedin in 2019.
While he struggled with injuries for parts of 2018, big, hard-throwing righty Matt Shannon, 23, got into 29 games and threw 48 1/3 innings for the Lugnuts. He had a 5.03 ERA and 1.78 WHIP, walking 10.3% of batters while striking out 15.0% but he got a whopping 55.4% of balls in play on the ground. Shannon could return to Lansing to work out a few things but could just as likely be in Dunedin.
23-year-old righty Andrew Deramo towered over the competition (at 6-foot-6), but had his struggles on the mound with a 6.48 ERA and 1.78 WHIP over 41 2/3 innings, striking out a healthy 20.3% of batters but walking 12.9%, worse than his 2017 total of 12.0% at the same level. Deramo had seen his ground ball rate increase over his three professional seasons, peaking (so far) at 47.2% last year. He could return to Lansing or move to Dunedin if he’s able to sort his control issues.
Vancouverite Brayden Bouchey, 23, followed up his strong 2017 in his home town with an excellent 2018 in Lansing with a few games in New Hampshire. Bouchey made one appearance with Lansing in April, throwing two perfect innings with four strikeouts before going back to extended spring training. He emerged in late May with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts before he was moved to Lansing where he stayed for the rest of the year. All told with the Lugnuts, Bouchey had a 2.29 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, striking out 23.6% of batters but walking 12.1%. While Bouchey struggled not to walk batters, he stranded them at a high rate and hitters hit only .196 off him. Look for Bouchey to move higher in 2019.
At 22 year old, Mexican righty Dalton Rodriguez made four different stops in the Blue Jays’ organization in 2018, spending the most time (by far) in Lansing. Rodriguez’s season started in Lansing and he made four appearances with the Lugnuts in April, giving up four runs on 10 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. He pitched a game in New Hampshire on May 15, walking two in a scoreless inning and then gave up three runs on two hits (including a home run) and two walks with three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings on May 25 with Buffalo. When the short season started, Rodriguez joined the Vancouver Canadians, pitching five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk with five strikeouts before he went back to Lansing for the rest of the year. All in all, Rodriguez threw 35 2/3 innings with Lansing, posting a 5.80 ERA and 1.91 WHIP, striking out 14.0% of batters and walking 99%, but batters hit .336 off of him with a BABIP of .374. Rodriguez, a six-year professional, will likely spend one more year in the Jays’ organization in the mid-minor leagues to show the Jays and other teams why he should get another contract beyond his initial deal.
Emerson Jimenez, 23, had a rough go of it in his second season as a pitcher. After dominating in the GCL last year, Jimenez tossed 29 2/3 innings in 16 games with the Lansing Lugnuts but posted a 7.58 ERA and 1.52 WHIP with a 17.5% strikeout rate (that was less than half of what it was last year) and a 9.1% walk rate (just slightly higher). Jimenez will probably look to polish his skills in 2019, likely back with Lansing where he’ll hope to stay healthier.
22-year-old righty Orlando Pascual doesn’t throw hard but he had some success in Vancouver and somewhat less in his time in Lansing. Pascual made three appearances with Lansing in April. He didn’t allow an earned run but walked more batters each time out, totaling six walks and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings with three hits and one unearned run. He went back to extended spring training and emerged with the Vancouver Canadians, making four appearances, giving up three runs in his first outing but none from then on in, allowing only three runs in six innings with four strikeouts and just one walk before he moved back up to Lansing. In Lansing, Pascual had a 4.57 ERA and 1.66 WHIP, striking out 20.4% of batters but walking 15.5%. Pascual was sent back to Vancouver, finishing the season there and he had a 3.09 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 22.9% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate in 11 2/3 innings with Vancouver. Look for Pascual to stay in Lansing to start the year in 2019.
Claudio Custodio, 27, took the long way back to affiliated baseball when he was pitching for Barrie in the Intercounty Baseball League in 2017. Spotted by Dante De Caria, who was interning for the Blue Jays, Custodio shone when the Blue Jays finally took a look at him and he signed with the Jays. He was sent initially to Lansing where he posted a 2.66 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, striking out 15.5% of batters and walking only 4.8% for the Lugnuts over 20 1/3 innings. Custodio was sent to Dunedin for two games in July, where he struck out four and gave up just one hit in three innings and was promoted again, this time to Buffalo where he gave up a pair of runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three. Sent back to Dunedin for four more games, he gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and he pitched two more times in Buffalo (giving up three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings) before finishing the season out in Dunedin. With Buffalo, Custodio had a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 10 innings, striking out 18.6% of batters and walking 9.3% while he had a 3.71 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 17 innings with Dunedin, striking out 15.1% and walking 6.9%. Custodio has shown a lot of promise this year and could easily start 2019 anywhere from Dunedin to Buffalo.
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