Joe Smith with the Blue Jays

In addition to being a quality reliever, Joe Smith brought a veteran presence to the Blue Jays bullpen that’s been sorely missed since he was traded to Cleveland.

With pitchers like Ryan Tepera, Dominic Leone, Danny Barnes, Matt Dermody, Chris Rowley, Tim Mayza, Luis Santos, and Carlos Ramirez, the Blue Jays bullpen is chock-full of relievers trying to make a name for themselves.  It’s a luxury to have so many youthful arms coming up through the system, but wouldn’t all these relatively inexperienced pitchers be better served by having a savvy veteran reliever around to help them along and adjust to the big leagues?

This was the role that Jason Grilli and Joe Smith filled so well when they were with the Blue Jays…a role that unfortunately hasn’t been filled since they departed.

Other than Aaron Loup, 22-year old Roberto Osuna has the most seniority in the Blue Jays bullpen when it comes to service time.  Osuna is a phenom, but like almost any person his age, even one this talented, he could certainly benefit from having someone nearby who has a lot more experience to draw on.  Who in the Blue Jays bullpen these days will dare try and tell Osuna how he should go about getting out of this funk he’s in?  At just 22, he’s already accomplished more in this game than any of the other relievers on the team, which is why Toronto needs a veteran voice who’s comfortable and not afraid to give advice to even the most talented of players.

Last season the Houston Astros finished 3rd in their division and out of the playoffs.  In 2017, their transformation into one of the best and most confident teams in baseball has been both impressive and scary.  Much of this improvement can be attributed to the off-season acquisition of veterans like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick.  With the exception of Reddick, these veterans are no longer on top of their game, but the experience they bring has instilled a belief and confidence in this team that wasn’t there last season.

In 2018, the Blue Jays bullpen has the potential to be great.  With so many relievers returning who are showing serious signs of being quality big-league pitchers, Toronto’s bullpen has far less to worry about compared to the starting rotation.  Last off-season the Blue Jays addressed both the need to beef-up their bullpen and add a veteran presence by signing Joe Smith and J.P. Howell.  It’ll be important this off-season to do something similar and bring in a reliever similar to Smith.  That is to say a player who can contribute on the field, as well as mentor this young and talented group of relievers.

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