Top 5: Closers in 2015 AL East

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Sep 25, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) throws a pitch during the ninth inning in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

4) Roberto Osuna – Toronto Blue Jays

ERA 2.58, FIP 3.02, WAR 1.3, K/9 9.69, SV 20, SVO 23, BABIP .240

It Factor – Precocious phenom on the way to the top

A cursory glance at Roberto Osuna’s stats paint a picture of an average, though not spectacular, closer. Alas, the stats don’t tell you that easel upon which the painting is done is that of a 20 year old. When you consider that, and that this was his first year in the show, then I’m sure you must have a different view of the artwork.

Osuna has had an amazing breakout season, all things considered. His fastball is electric, sitting between 95-96 MPH and can only get more potent. His secondaries are also above average, with an equally used slider and changeup getting mixed with a very occasional cutter to throw off hitters. Osuna is a very complete closer, perhaps projecting to be one of the most in this list.

For now though, the painting is just as you see. Average, but not spectacular. That said, it could have been something much more. After an August worth a stingy 0.79 ERA (Osuna only gave up 1 run on 6 hits in 11 innings), he would struggle in September to the tune of a 4.91 ERA, conceding 6 runs in, again, 11 innings of work and, perhaps more worryingly, 4 dingers. Questions were being asked about his suitability for the closer role, with the Blue Jays winning AL East and favorites among many to take on the World Series. Such questions were ultimately unfounded. Osuna took his 1 save opportunity in the postseason and converted it, pitching pretty well on the whole in 7 games he was called on.

One black mark stands out. On October 23, Osuna came in against the Kansas City Royals and gave up a run on two hits in one inning. Not great, but not dreadful. Except that run was the winning run and that made Osuna the losing pitcher. And thus the Blue Jays and Osuna were done for the year. As the old saying goes; in life we have two chief regrets, when we do good nobody remembers and when we do bad nobody forgets.

Even so, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Osuna impressed enough that almost certainly his role as closer in Toronto is cemented for the foreseeable future. That’s more than enough for a 20 year old. You probably hadn’t heard of Osuna before 2015, but expect to hear a lot more of him for a long time to come.

Next: 3 - Koji Uehara