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Casey Janssen as Scott Downs Version 2.0

Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images

They may be two completely different pitchers on two totally teams, but they are two relievers who are more alike than you might think. And both of them have suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays: Casey Janssen and Scott Downs.

Sure, Downs has a very deliberate delivery to the plate. Not to mention, he’s a lefty. Casey Janssen on the other hand, is a right-hander … and as you can see from the photo above, has an extremely extended delivery to the plate.

So how can these two seemingly different relievers be so similar? It doesn’t really have so much to with the pitchers themselves as it does there contracts.



After it was announced earlier this week that Janssen was inked to a two-year extension, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between Casey Janssen and Scott Downs’ contract extensions.

One may have been inked by Alex Anthopoulos and the other by J.P. Ricciardi, but for two different GM’s in two different regimes, you have to admit the deals are remarkably similar.

Both deals bought out the final years of arbitration, and the total amount is nearly identical: Janssen’s $9 million total compared to Downs’ $10 million total.

But wait, there’s more! Take the splits from Scott Downs 2007 season and compare them with the lefty/right splits from Casey Janssen’s 2011 season and they’re nearly identical as well.

At this point, I’ll fully admit I’m just cherry picking stats that are similar, but it’s fun to see just how close their career years really are:

Scott Downs 2007 Splits

SplitGPAABHHRBATB
vs RHB as LHP55113101242.23833
vs LHB as LHP74126110231.20928

Casey Janssen 2011 Splits

SplitGPAABHHRBATB
vs RHB as RHP5010495232.24234
vs LHB as RHP54119111240.21630
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table



Casey may not be at the top of the bullpen depth chart going into Spring Training this season, but I believe this contract extension all but ensures he’ll be the setup man to Sergio Santos is 2013 and possibly 2014 as well. Not unlike how Scott Downs set up B.J. Ryan in 2007 and 2008.

Looking ahead to 2013, Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos are the only guarantees for the Blue Jays bullpen. This is, unless Alex Anthopoulos deems them as valuable trade commodities, but I can’t really see that happening, considering he just acquired Santos and just extended Janssen.

So again, it brings us back to that Scott Downs/B.J. Ryan tandem from 2008. At a combined $14.25 million, Downs & Ryan may not have been a bargain when it came to the back end of a bullpen, but they were certainly very effective.

Looking ahead, the duo of Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos will make a mere $6.65 million combined next season. Taking inflation into account and the upward trend of baseball contracts, that’s incredible value for a closer and setup man.

I think Casey Janssen is more than likely going to have to battle with Francisco Cordero for the setup man role this season, though. John Farrell might be more inclined to hand those reins to Cordero as the veteran, but it won’t be long before Janssen is handed the ball for the 8th inning.

Considering that Francisco Cordero’s contract is only for one season with no option for 2013, that screams to me that AA is hoping he can flip Cordero at the trade deadline.

It seems like teams in contention are always looking to upgrade their bullpen (ie: the 2011 Texas Rangers), so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Blue Jays move Francisco Cordeo. And that would subsequently open the door back up for Casey Janssen as the Blue Jays setup man.

There’s no question late relief used to be a huge concern for the Blue Jays. However, it once again appears to be something that John Farrell won’t have to worry too much about at least in the foreseeable future.

And if Casey Janssen does in fact pan out to be the second coming of Scott Downs, then that’s quite alright with me.

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Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his son for the next 20 years.

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6 Comments

  1. The BlueJaynator

    February 17, 2012 - 4:23 pm

    My favourite part about that picture is Yunel Escobar in the background mid-bounce looking like he's on his tiptoes.

  2. The BlueJaynator

    February 17, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    On closer examination, maybe it's Lawrie. Well whoever, it's still funny.

  3. Ian - BJH

    February 17, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    BlueJaynator, very good eye! I didn't even notice that … does look like he's on his tiptoes, doesn't it?

    The photo was taken on September 5th, and Escobar wasn't in the lineup that day, so it must be Lawrie.

  4. Capn

    February 17, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    Gotta be on your toes to play the hot corner!

  5. Keith

    February 20, 2012 - 11:52 pm

    6/7/8….. Does it really matter? Janssenshould be in for the high leverage situations, which for this team will likely be the 6th and 7th when the starters run out of gas.
    As long as Frasor and Cordero aren't being run out there in these situations to put gas on a fire, I'm fine.

  6. Ian - BJH

    February 21, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Keith, really it doesn't matter where Janssen is slotted. I would trust him with the more high leverage situations, which often times come in the 6th or 7th. So there's no shame in not being a closer or setup man in the bullpen this year.

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