Though he’s not an appealing solution to the team’s need for a left-handed reliever, at least not name wise, Craig Breslow does make sense for the Toronto Blue Jays.
After losing Brett Cecil earlier this offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays are in need of a left-handed reliever to help solidify their bullpen. While lefties like Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins remain on the open market, both have been said to be seeking deals in the range of two years and $12 million.
Although both pitchers would be good options for the Blue Jays, $6 million a year is obviously an expensive price tag, especially when you consider how volatile relief pitchers tend to be. I know Jays fans are tired of reading descriptions like “he’s a good buy-low option,” or “he carries minimal risk,” or “if he can put it all together, he could contribute,” but I think those are the kind of players the Blue Jays are looking for to round out their bullpen.
Just look at the left-handers they have signed this offseason. Does Brett Oberholtzer, TJ House or Jeff Beliveau really inspire confidence? No, but they do support the team’s approach of not overpaying for relief help. When you look back at Shapiro’s history, outside of signing Kerry Wood to a two-year, $20.5 million deal in 2008, he has rarely paid for bullpen help via free agency. Why would his approach change all the sudden?
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That leads us to Craig Breslow. I know the Jays interest in Breslow has you overwhelmed with excitement, but based on what was said following his workout, he’s actually a compelling option. Breslow, a Yale graduate who is known as “The Smartest Man in Baseball,” has apparently changed his delivery and is not only throwing from a different arm slot, but is also throwing a two-seam fastball that has a “heavy tail.”
Evan Drellich had some fascinating quotes from Breslow in his story he wrote for the Boston Herald, where the 36-year-old lefty discussed mimicking other pitchers, vertical and horizontal movement, and more.
"“To say, ‘I’m going to try to make Andrew Miller’s breaking ball,’ would probably have been a fool’s errand, given that he’s 6-foot-8 with longer levers, longer fingers, etc.,” the shorter Breslow said. “But to say, ‘This type of breaking ball, from this slot with this action, is an effective one, let’s see how close we can get to that,’ is a much more plausible undertaking.”In October, Breslow had 9.45 inches of horizontal break on the two-seamer, based on numbers he provided to the Herald and obtained through a pitch-tracking system called Rapsodo.In a January sampling of pitches determined to be accurate, he had 1 foot, 6.35 inches of movement — nearly 9 inches more. His vertical movement, meanwhile, had increased about 6 inches.“In the beginning, I remember taking rides with my wife (Kelly) to go visit family and me driving her, being on a laptop and literally kind of being like … ‘OK, who’s got the best sinker?’ ” Breslow said. “Let’s look at Zach Britton: (he’s) left-handed, dominant sinker, induced a ton of groundballs. Let’s take a look at what kind of action he gets. How did his PITCHf/x numbers compare to mine?“OK they’re obviously a lot better for a lot of reasons. Let’s kind of decide if we can get X percentage closer to that, then we’ll call that a success. … We need some way at the end of all this (to say) did we achieve the goal or not?”– Evan Drellich, Boston Herald"
Breslow hasn’t been very good these past few seasons, but perhaps he’s onto something here? The whole process he’s taking is fascinating, but holy crow, the movement he’s generating is impressive! Perhaps he will be a late bloomer like his throwing buddy Rich Hill?
These are all big what if questions, but given Breslow’s history with Shapiro, Ross Atkins (he played for the Indians in 2008) and Ben Cherington (he played for the Red Sox from 2012-2015), I think the Blue Jays’ brass is willing to find out if the veteran lefty can rejuvenate his career.
Again, he’s not a flashy signing, but Breslow does fit the profile of the type of reliever Shapiro and co. seem to be after. Considering how many teams were at his workout, it will now be interesting to see if the Blue Jays can sign the New Haven, Connecticut native and for how much.
Do you think Breslow can rejuvenate his career? Should the Toronto Blue Jays take a chance on the veteran lefty? What do you think of his analytic based approach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.