Is This Too Much Too Soon for Miguel Castro & Roberto Osuna?

It’s almost inevitable for a young team to experience some growing pains. The Toronto Blue Jays have a flurry of young players on the roster right now, and while some are flourishing under the spotlight, others have been floundering.

At 11 and 9 appearances a piece, Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna are being used like veteran relievers in medium-to-high leverage situations. Castro is tied for the most appearances in the American League, and Osuna is not far behind.

But is this all too much too soon for the pair of twenty year-old rookies? Has John Gibbons already flown too close to the sun by using Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna so frequently?


Castro and Osuna started off the season initially as weapons stashed away in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. But now that they’ve both gotten into nearly ten games each, the word is officially out on Castro and Osuna.

With the ability to light up 100 and 98 MPH on the gun respectively, Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna have been John Gibbons’ favourite new toys to use. And unlike Star Wars action figures whose value lies sealed in the package, Gibby ripped these two right out of the box the first chance he got.

John Gibbons has relied heavily upon these two through the first three weeks of the schedule. At least for the first little while, Castro and Osuna looked untouchable. But as the innings began to accumulate, cracks became evident.

The fact that Brett Cecil was taken out of the closer’s role after one bad outing indicates that John Gibbons wanted Miguel Castro to be the Jays closer all along. Which is fine … but at least be transparent about it.

Castro has now looked shaky in four of his last five outings, and yet Gibbons hasn’t pulled the plug on him in high leverage situations. Miguel Castro has been given a lot of rope the past week, while Brett Cecil was initially given very little.

As everyone surrounding Major League Baseball marveled at the back end of the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen from last year, I think to some effect, John Gibbons is hoping to discover the next Herrera/Davis/Holland.

Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna may very well become the Blue Jays’ answer to the Royals’ three-headed bullpen monster, but by thrusting Castro and Osuna into these roles so quickly, it really has been a “sink or swim” experiment.

In defense of John Gibbons, he really hasn’t had any choice but to keep going back to Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna in high leverage situations. Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup were pegged as the veteran relievers, but both have been questionable as of late.

Travel further down the bullpen depth chart, and aside from Liam Hendriks (who has been a pleasant surprise so far with his rediscovered velocity), there really aren’t any other viable late-inning options for the Blue Jays.


Out of all the relievers which include Jeff Francis, Marco Estrada, Aaron Loup, Liam Henriks and Brett Cecil, why wouldn’t John Gibbons opt to go with a pair of rookie fireballers?

For the first few weeks, the Blue Jays were flying high with Castro and Osuna at the back end of the bullpen. But now, either teams have assembled a comprehensive scouting report, or Castro and Osuna aren’t locating pitches with the same effectiveness.

Many are quick to point out this is invariably what happens when a team relies on a pair of rookies as mainstays in the bullpen. It’s going to be a white-knuckle ride most games, and much like last night, it’s going to lead to the occasional meltdown.

And there have been some glorious meltdowns by the bullpen thus far (12 according to FanGraphs); there have also been some great shutdowns by Toronto’s relievers as well (15 in total).

Although it may not seem apparent during the first month of the season, the Blue Jays do have the liberty of time to figure this all out. But the pressure cooker environment surrounding the Blue Jays tends to lead to a lot of knee jerk reactions; some by the fans and media, some by the team itself.

Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna might be the two guys with the most upside on the Blue Jays roster. And right now, it’s apparent John Gibbons is attempting to extract that upside by thrusting Castro and Osuna into high leverage situations this early in the season.
If there were better options in the bullpen, surely Gibbons would employ them; but these two have been his go-to relievers. And unless a much more reliable arm emerges from the relief corps, that likely won’t change.


Update: That has changed. Via Shi Davidi, Miguel Castro is back into low-leverage situations and Brett Cecil has been re-named as the Blue Jays closer.

Image via Sportsnet

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 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.