When the Toronto Blue Jays optioned Steve Delabar to triple-A Buffalo on June 17, it was thought he would only be down on the farm for a brief stint.
This is an all-star we are talking about after all. The mindset was to send him to the minors, fix some bad habits, and get him back to Toronto as soon as possible.
Well that has not been what has transpired. Over two months later, the 31-year-old is still pitching out of the Bisons’ bullpen. But with roster expansion under a week away, Delabar will most likely be back with the Blue Jays for the final month of the season. Even with the emergence of Aaron Sanchez, a manager can never have too many power arms at his disposal for late-inning situations.
What happened to Delabar this season? He was dominant in 2013, and despite his 3-0 record with Toronto this year, he did not look like the same pitcher. In 30 appearances with the team, his ERA was approaching 5.00. Delabar told the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk that on an outing-to-outing basis, bad habits were piling on top of one another. He did not even recognize his own delivery at the time of his demotion.
“It was a gradual thing,” Delabar said. “All of a sudden I was looking at video of myself going, ‘I don’t understand where we are here.’ Going to Buffalo is really what had to happen.”
So how has the right-hander been faring in Buffalo? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Overall, the stats do not jump off the page. The Kentucky native is 2-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 21 games for the Bisons. He strikes out roughly 12 batters per nine innings, but walks nearly six.
That being said, when you take a closer look, it appears as if Delabar is on the verge of dominating once again. Through eight games in August, the big righty has held opponents to a measly .172 batting average. He has only allowed one run on five hits in the month. An important stat for a relief pitcher, Delabar escapes jams, allowing an even lower .163 average with runners on base. Finally, he has yielded only one earned run in his past nine appearances, and has not surrendered more than one run in a game since July 4th.
Upon his return, Delabar should make an immediate impact.
The Jays are eight games back in the American League East, and trail the Seattle Mariners by five and a half for the final wild card. It is safe to say their season is on life support. It might be a long shot, but Steve Delabar’s fastball could be what revives the team.