Jason Grilli Toronto DFA

Jason Grilli’s Time in Toronto is Over

According to Hazel Mae, Jason Grilli’s time with the Blue Jays may be coming to an end. Grilli, who was acquired last May in a trade with Atlanta in exchange for minor leaguer Sean Ratcliffe, became quite become a fan favorite in his brief time in Toronto.

May is also reporting that Chris Smith (3.93 ERA, 15 K in 18 innings) has been recalled from triple-A to replace Grilli in the bullpen.

The 40-year-old Grilli, who was struggling at the time of his acquisition (5.29 ERA in 17 innings pitched), turned his season around and became the Jays primary setup man for the remainder of the 2016 season. With the struggles of Brett Cecil and Drew Storen, the back of the Toronto bullpen was in serious disarray. The acquisition of the former closer not only stabilized the back end (his 1.42 ERA in his first 31 2/3 innings was a godsend) of the bullpen, but he brought a passion and fire to the club that hadn’t existed previousyl. His demonstrative celebrations and wild fist pumps quickly made him one of the most popular players on the roster.

Grilli however, has struggled mightily in 2017 – posting a 6.97 ERA and often turning close games into blowouts. While his velocity has remained relatively consistent, his FIP of 7.87 and other peripherals (strand rate, left on base rate) suggest that he isn’t the victim of bad luck or small sample size variance, either. He has surrendered nine home runs already this season after giving up ten in all of 2016.

Grilli’s struggles this season have led to John Gibbons using the pitcher in lower leverage situations and with less frequenecy. He even went 10 days in between appearances in early June after surrendering four home runs to the New York Yankees in two thirds of an inning. Designating Grilli for assignment will give John Gibbons another arm in the bullpen and should allow the manager to spread the workload around – something that became difficult to do when he was only using Grilli during blowouts. The Blue Jays bullpen carried a heavy workload so far this season and hopefully an effective Chris Smith will allow John Gibbons to lean a little less heavily on Ryan Tepera, Joe Smith and Danny Barnes – all who have thrown over 30 innings already this season.

All that said, it’s hard to see Grilli go. He was a big part in stabilizing one of the 2016 team’s biggest weaknesses – and thus getting them into the postseason – and his emotive displays were always a treat to watch. He also seemed to genuinely love Toronto and his time playing with the Blue Jays and while it isn’t the ending anyone had hoped for, the veteran righty even showed the Blue Jays some love on his way out, as well. While reporters didn’t get to speak to him, Grilli seemed to make his feelings about this team and the city quite clear.

I’m sure that everyone is wishing Grilli the best moving forward. We certainly are at BP Toronto.

Lead Photo © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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