Sergio Santos is still a few weeks from returning from a shoulder injury, but Francisco Cordero’s time filling in for him as the Blue Jays’ closer is over now.
Cordero’s latest ugly outing last night involved blowing his third save in five tries, leaving him with a 9.53 ERA, and the Blue Jays have stripped him of closing duties in favor of Casey Janssen.
And it sounds like Cordero has essentially been demoted to mop-up man, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reporting that the Blue Jays will use Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, and Luis Perez as Janssen’s setup men.
Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but his velocity was down and his strikeout rate plummeted to a career-low 5.4 per nine innings. He couldn’t find a closing job as a free agent, settling for a one-year, $4.5 million setup man deal from the Blue Jays.
Janssen has just nine career saves, including no more than two in any of the past four years, but if the first six weeks of this season has taught us anything it’s that being a “proven closer” doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.