Blue Jays Closer Roberto Osuna is Having a Record Year
NEW YORK – When Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suffered just his third blown save of the season Aug. 19 in Cleveland, he was immediately approached by his bullpen mates Jason Grilli and Joaquin Benoit — both 18 years Osuna’s senior.
“They talked to me and said: ‘Hey, don’t worry. Just keep doing your thing,'” said Osuna. “When you hear those things from those guys — they’ve been in the big leagues for a long time — that gives you extra confidence.”
Osuna took the advice to heart and is putting together a record season. On Aug.17, he earned his 27th save, setting a MLB record for most saves before a player’s 22nd birthday with his 47th. And then in Sunday’s comeback win in Tampa Bay, Osuna picked up his 30th save of the season, becoming the youngest pitcher in MLB history to record at least 30 saves in a season. (The previous youngest was Neftali Feliz, who was 22 when he saved his 30th in 2010). Instead of Grilli and Benoit talking to him after the game Sunday, it was his mom who called from Mexico.
“My mom is so happy that I’m going to be in the books forever. It really means a lot,” said Osuna.
“Blown saves happen to everyone, everyone,” Osuna said Monday before the Blue Jays faced the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. “It happened to Mariano Rivera, and Mariano Rivera was the best closer in baseball. So don’t worry, just go out there, don’t give up, be aggressive, do you job, that’s it. Doing this thing at this age is not easy and thank God for letting me to be here and do my job. It really means a lot for me and my family, and I’m going for more.”
Osuna loves being the Jays’ closer but would also start if the team ever needed him in that role.
“Like I said, I play for the team. If the team needs me as a starter I’m going to be there to help them,” Osuna said.
For his part, Benoit described Osuna as one of the most mature 21-year-olds he has ever come across.
Benoit is also enjoying a great season since joining the Jays on July 26. His 17 scoreless innings pitched is the third-longest active streak in the majors.
Benoit has been a revelation for the Jays and credits team chemistry with a lot of his success. “Team chemistry always makes a difference and if everybody’s playing together and they’re playing for something, everybody gets on board,” Benoit said. “This team has a different vibe that I believe was the best place for me to settle.”
AROUND THE DIAMOND
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons moved second baseman Devon Travis to the leadoff spot against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka Monday, dropping Jose Bautista to the two slot. Travis had a team-high 53 hits since the all-star break, and began the game Monday with a double.
“Just the way our lineups configures today,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons also gave shortstop Troy Tulowitzki the day off, putting Darwin Barney at shortstop and batting ninth. “He needs it, game day, yesterday travel, he can use it,” said Gibbons.
The Jays will recall LHP Aaron Loup and RHP Bo Schultz in time for Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium.
GOING FOR BROKE
Russell Martin‘s eighth-inning, two-run home run to help sink Tampa Bay on Sunday demonstrated Gibbons’ philosophy when it comes to hitters going after 3-0 pitches. Martin’s homer was on a 3-0 pitch. More than some managers, Gibbons allows his veteran hitters to swing away.
“We give, not all of them, most of our guys, green lights, a lot of times 3-0,” Gibbons said. “It depends on the score, if you can tie or take the lead, things like that. There’s a handful of guys in our lineup, we do it. And most of the guys have good enough discipline, they’re not going to chase outside. If it’s a ball they’re going to take their walk.
“But it’s depending on situation,” he added. “If a guy’s really hot, you want him swinging it. Those guys up top, those are the guys who do the damage for us. That’s where you run into problems, young guys or guys that are too aggressive, get themselves out that way.”
In his last five seasons, Martin has swung at 31 of 135 pitches with the count 3-0 (23%). In the previous six seasons, he had swung at just nine of 212 (4%).