Four-way battle for closer's role on Jays

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:39 PM ET

DUNEDIN - With four relief candidates who have closed games in Blue Jay uniforms this spring, it could present an opportunity for the ultimate bullpen by committee.

Manager John Farrell doesn’t think so.

“We’ll use spring training to come out of camp and head north with an identified closer,” he said Tuesday. “It not only serves that individual but it serves the rest of the bullpen well that they know what their role is once the season starts.”

Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel and Jason Frasor have all been closers at various times in their careers. Between them, they have accumulated 220 career saves, led by Dotel’s 105. One of them will serve in that role this year in the Toronto pen.

If he had to make a bet on which of the candidates will eventually get the job, Farrell pointed a finger at Francisco, who saved 25 games for the Rangers two years ago and pitched well as a set-up man for Neftali Feliz last season until he missed all of September and October with a strained muscle in his right side. He is particularly effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to an OPS of .549 last season.

“He’s got two pitches that he can really create some separation with,” said Farrell. “He can run his fastball in and keep left-handers honest where they have to protect against velocity inside and then he has an off-speed pitch that has action that runs away from the left-hand hitter. That’s the separation that he can execute against lefties.

“Numbers bear that out. When you look at the three or four guys in that mix, the fact that he can attack lefties with that kind of success rate kind of gives him the edge coming in, at least on paper.”


Photos