Throwing more strikes key for Blue Jays' 'pen

Cecil remains closer as rookie Castro works through mechanical flaw

Throwing more strikes key for Blue Jays' 'pen

CLEVELAND -- It's been something of a revolving door in the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen this season.

Brett Cecil, who's pitched well out of the bullpen the last two seasons but had saved just six games entering this season, started the year as the team's closer only to lose the job to rookie Miguel Castro.

Now, it's back to being Cecil's job, as Castro's first 11 appearances were overall unsuccessful.

Castro strikes out Lavarnway

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that there's a mechanical flaw they're seeing in Castro that's not allowing his fastball to achieve its desired shape. This could be part of the reason why, despite its high 97 mph velocity, the pitch has achieved a below-average number of swings-and-misses.

"You can even talk to the pitching coach and he'll tell you that Castro's getting around the ball a little bit," Gibbons said. "As hard as he throws, he can get away with more mistakes than others. But you've still got to hit your spots and make some good pitches. We think maybe he's getting on the side of the ball and he's not getting that good sink. It's just a minor hand adjustment. That could be part of it."

Castro received the last couple of days off, and Gibbons said that, for now, his role is more of a sixth- or seventh-inning guy until he regains some of what they saw in the first place that earned him the closer role.

"We're still going to need him," Gibbons said. "But we've still got some pretty good options."

Among those options is similar flame-throwing rookie Roberto Osuna, who Gibbons called "the real deal." No problems there.

Osuna fans Joseph to end the 6th

And for all the confusion in the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen, there's been similar confusion in a similarly inexperienced starting rotation. Blue Jays starters own a 5.33 ERA this season -- third-highest in the Majors -- and are walking nearly four batters per game.

For Gibbons, these are just the ebbs and flows that come with a young starting rotation. Beyond veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, it's to be expected that there will be bumps along the way with young pitchers like Drew Hutchison (24 years old), Aaron Sanchez (22) and Daniel Norris (22). The command may not be present, but with the kind of stuff his young hurlers have, he's willing to wait out some of the hiccups while the command irons itself out.

"We're walking too many guys, that's for sure," Gibbons said. "It doesn't matter what age you are, you've still got to throw it over the plate. But we do have a couple guys that, it could be a couple years, and they'll still walk guys until they iron some things out or gain some consistency. I expect them all to get better, no doubt, but I also understand that there's going to be some games where they're not very good."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.