Young 'pen threat Osuna ties impressive mark

Toronto closer stands alongside Forster with most saves before turning 22

Young 'pen threat Osuna ties impressive mark

TORONTO -- Roberto Osuna has experienced a lot for someone who is 21 years old, and now his rapid ascent to the big leagues has resulted in a pretty big milestone.

Osuna tied the Major League record for most saves before a pitcher's 22nd birthday during the Blue Jays' 4-2 victory over the Astros on Saturday afternoon. It was Osuna's 26th save of the season and the 46th of his career, which placed him alongside Terry Forster.

The native of Mexico seems all but officially guaranteed to own the record in the coming days or weeks. Osuna does not turn 22 until Feb. 7, 2017, so barring injury, he should be able to blow past the record that Forster set with the White Sox during the early 1970s.

"It means a lot. I didn't know until [I] was told this morning," Osuna said of the record. "It means a lot obviously. I thank god for the opportunity to be here with the Blue Jays, because they were the first ones who trusted me. So thanks a lot."

Osuna has been nearly flawless ever since he broke into the Majors at the beginning of last season at 20 years old. He emerged during Spring Training and has not looked back since, converting all but five of his 51 save opportunities, including a current streak of 13 in a row.

There was a time when Osuna was viewed as a potential future cornerstone of the starting rotation. That plan changed last year, when the club decided to speed up his development by moving him to the bullpen to help fill a major area of weakness. That allowed Osuna to become one of the top relievers in baseball, and it's possible he has found a permanent home in the ninth inning.

It's not often that pitchers that young get to seize high-leverage situations late in games but Osuna finds himself in some pretty elite company. Longtime closer Huston Street ranks a distant third on the list of saves by pitchers under the age of 22, with 27.

"He's a quick learner," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said of Osuna. "He has the ability to make adjustments quick. He can work on something one day and at the end of his session, it's already better. He just has some type of intelligence where he can just make adjustments on the fly like that.

"His changeup is a great pitch, he has an electric fastball, he has been working on a cutter and he has a slider. Normally when you have a young kid with so many pitches, you can get worried they're not going to be as sharp. With him, you can ask for one cutter every five outings and it's going to be a good cutter. ... He just has so many weapons."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.