Stats & Info: Casey Janssen

Key to win streak: Inside Blue Jays bullpen

June, 21, 2013
Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays are hitting and winning, but the work of their bullpen throughout this month, and particularly during this nine-game winning streak (which got them to .500 for the first time all season), should not be overlooked.

The Blue Jays' bullpen has an 0.61 ERA in June after three more scoreless innings in relief of R.A. Dickey in Friday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles.

The numbers may be slightly distorted by six unearned runs this month, but they’ve been impressive nonetheless.

During the winning streak, Blue Jays relievers are 3-0 with four saves and have pitched 22 innings, allowing two unearned runs and seven hits. They haven't allowed an earned run in their last 27 innings.

Let’s take a look at the two relievers who have been big keys to their run of success.

The closer: Casey Janssen
Casey Janssen picked up the role of closer last season and has taken the ball and run with it through 2013. He has 16 saves in 17 opportunities, with saves and a win on Friday in his last five appearances since the season’s only blown save.
Casey Janssen
Janssen earned his first save of last season on May 9. Since that date, his WHIP of 0.80 ranks third among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, trailing only Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara.

Kimbrel and Grant Balfour are the only two pitchers with a better opponents’ OPS in that stretch than Janssen’s .495.

Janssen does this without posting hugely above-average numbers when it comes to getting swings-and-misses.

But his rate of taken pitches that are called strikes, a big factor in his success, is 40 percent since last May 9, considerably above the big-league average of about 33 percent.

Unsung star: Brett Cecil
Perhaps the most amazing work has been done by Brett Cecil, who has held opponents hitless over his last 43 batters faced (Elias notes this is a team record). Cecil got all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth inning on Friday, including Chris Davis, who hit his major-league leading 27th homer earlier in the game.

Cecil has become much more than a lefty specialist (left-handed hitters are 7-for-71 against him this season). He’s now faced 142 hitters this season in total and held them to a .132/.193/.217 slashline (all best in the majors among pitchers who have faced that many batters.
Brett Cecil
Cecil is winning with a fastball that is not overpowering (he throws it 92 mph on average). He locates it at the top of (and above) the strike zone more often than any other pitcher (60 percent of his pitches are to the upper-third of the zone and above).

He also nets misses on about half of the swings against his breaking pitches, including a curveball that he’s throwing nearly three times as often as he did the past two seasons.

The other noticeable improvement for Cecil —- a jump in his ground-ball rate of nearly 10 percentage points from the previous two seasons, up from 40 percent (in 2011 and 2012) to 49 percent, and with that a significant reduction in hard-hit contact against him.

Looking ahead: Closing in on a record
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that this is the Blue Jays' longest streak without allowing an earned run since a 1993 run of 27 1/3 innings.

That bullpen helped lead the team to the World Series.

The team record is 28 innings, set in 1989.

1st pitch: Guess who leads the team

April, 19, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Joe Mauer turns 27 today. Who is the only player younger than Mauer who has more career hits?

Quick Hits: Early on, there are some interesting names who currently reside as team statistical leaders:

* After closing out Saturday’s marathon, Mike Pelfrey now leads the Mets in wins (two) and saves (one).

* David Ortiz only has six hits on the season, but with five doubles, he leads the Red Sox.

* Despite pitching solely out of the bullpen, Casey Janssen leads the Blue Jays with three wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first pitcher in 18 years to win three of his team’s first six games. The last to do it was Jose Melendez for the 1992 Padres.

* Joey Votto leads the Reds with four stolen bases, which matches his total from last season.

* Jeff Mathis is tied for the Angels’ team lead with two stolen bases, which matches his career-high.

* Lyle Overbay might be hitting just .080, but he leads the Blue Jays in triples. Granted he’s hit the team’s only triple thus far.

* Jeff Keppinger leads the Astros with 17 total bases.

* Cliff Pennington, who never hit more than eight homers in the minors, leads the A’s with two.

* Tyler Clippard, who has only appeared as a reliever, leads the Nationals in strikeouts with nine.

Key Matchups: Bobby Abreu, one of the most patient hitters in the game, has faced Dontrelle Willis 35 times in his career and only walked once. To be fair, the two haven’t squared off since 2005. Willis was the runner-up for the NL Cy Young that year, and hadn’t yet begun to struggle with his control. However, Abreu has only faced two pitchers more without drawing multiple walks. Both Roy Halladay (39 PA, 0 BB) and Curt Schilling (44 PA, 1 BB) are famous for pinpoint control.

After missing the final 129 games of 2009, Conor Jackson is still getting back in the groove for Arizona. He has hit safely in 10 of 11 games, but only has one extra-base hit and one multiple hit game. Against Brad Penny, Monday could be a breakout game. Jackson is a .474 career hitter against Penny, his second highest average against any pitcher he’s faced 15 times. David Wright (.579) is the only hitter with a higher average against Penny with at least 20 plate appearances.

Today’s Leaderboard: Early in 2010, Joel Pineiro, who starts Monday against the Tigers, has continued his renaissance by using the ground ball to his advantage. He currently has a 6.50 ground out to air out ratio, which is nearly double that of any other pitcher, according to

Trivia Answer: Jose Reyes turns 27 in June and has 105 more hits than Mauer, though in 645 more plate appearances. Miguel Cabrera almost qualifies, but he turned 27 yesterday.