The Blue Jays bullpen was expected to be the team’s Achilles’ heel in the juggernaut in blue that was supposed to run roughshod over the rest of the AL East.
But such has not been the case. A balanced group of strong-armed relievers has been led by last year’s closer-by-default, Casey Janssen, who has stepped up in the first three weeks to go 5-for-5 in saves, with a 0.43 WHIP in seven appearances.
Coming off minor surgery to his right shoulder, Janssen has answered the bell and answered questions about his durability and his ability to go back-to-back or three of five days. He continues to come right after hitters, pounding the strike zone and putting himself in position to succeed.
“To get the first guy out is huge in any inning, especially a one-run game,” Janssen said. “They’re going to listen to me to how I’m feeling and stuff, but at the same time there are days, no one’s going to feel great every day. There are days where you’re going to have to push through some stuff.”
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At spring training, the closer’s role was always going to fall to either Janssen or righthander Sergio Santos, whoever emerged healthiest and most effective. After a late start, Janssen proved sturdy enough for the role. So far, so good. Santos has now been forced onto the DL with triceps issues. Even minus the strong-armed former closer, there are not many pens as balanced. The top six splits righties Janssen, Steve Delabar and Esmil Rogers with southpaws Darren Oliver, Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil.