Who: Jason Frasor , No. 54. Relief Pitcher. 5’9, 180 LBS. 34 years old.
Tao-Approved Nicknames: The Sausage King. After Abe Froman. Because he’s from Chicago. You can look it up.
History: Eight MLB seasons and 475 games with Toronto and the White Sox. (Yes, that last part really happened. For 20 lousy games.)
Contract Status: Follow us closely on this one. The Blue Jays offered Frasor arbitration last year, which he accepted. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a one-year deal (because really, why would Alex Anthopoulos ever do that?) But then, just before they went to the Jays’ first hearing since Bill Risley in 1764 (or something), a deal for one year plus an option was reached between the parties. Then there was some strange business of a trade. And the other team picked up the option year on Frasor at a cost of $3.75 million, then traded him back to the Jays, who had given him the option year in the first place.
Career Stats: 3.74 ERA in 478.2 innings pitched. 446 strikeouts, 205 walks. 36 saves. 6,999 sprayed loogies expectorated onto the mound pensively and deliberately. Expect (ha!) the milestone to be reached in the season opener.
2011 Stats: 3.60 ERA in 64 innings pitched. 57 strikeouts, 26 walks. Ranked first in Player Appreciation Added In His Post-Trade Farewell Interviews (PAAIHPTFI).
Perfunctory Nerd Stats: Frasor’s Win Probability Added (WPA) in Toronto was 1.10. In his sweet home of Chicago, it was -0.25.
Looking Back: Was Jason Frasor ever really gone? Was this the Blue Jays’ Bobby Ewing moment? Just days after slipping past Duane Ward to become the Blue Jays’ all-time leader in appearances for a pitcher, Frasor found himself caught in the middle of the Colby Rasmus trade and swept out of town.
The trade wasn’t kind to Frasor. He left Toronto with a 2.98 ERA, but in his first 20 games with the White Sox, he posted a 5.09 mark, giving up three homers and 11 walks in 17.2 innings. Maybe Frasor was a really hardcore Cubs fan. Or maybe it’s something about Hawk Harrelson’s presence that inspired him to such depths.
Or, maybe it’s the fact that for some reason, Frasor backed off on throwing his arcane “fosh” breaking ball in favour of a more pedestrian slider after the trade. In Toronto, Frasor tossed the the changeup/splitter hybrid 16.8% of the time, but dropped that to 13.5% in Chicago. He also threw a slider just 11.2% of the time, but cranked that rate up to 18.3% with the Pale Hose. Although that latter rate was on par with his pitch selection recent years. So maybe none of that means nothing.
On second thought, it probably was Hawk.
Looking Forward: Given the mess of humanity that the Jays will attempt to cram into their bullpen this year, we guess is that Frasor won’t be asked to throw many of the later innings. He pitched 37.0 of his innings in the seventh or eighth frames in 2011, but we figure he’ll be called upon to fill the void left by Shawn Camp. Last year, he threw just 6.1 innings in the sixth and the two-thirds of an inning in the fifth.
The side benefit to such a move would be that Frasor would be removed from the high-leverage situations where his ponderously deliberate approach to pitching is positively agonizing. The long exhales and stares into the horizon might make for drama, but it’s infuriating to watch when the game hangs in the balance.
2012 Expectations: Since mixing the fosh into his arsenal in 2009, Frasor has been a steady and consistent contributor, and there’s no immediate reason to suspect that he’s incapable of once again posting an ERA in the mid-to-high 3.00’s over 60-some outings. He won’t be the key to the team’s bullpen success, but getting solid fifth, sixth or seventh innings out of him can help to keep a few extra games close.
And given what a sport he was about leaving the first time, he might be a decent trade chip come this July as well.