When the Jays acquired Jason Grilli from the Atlanta Braves in the spring of 2016, Grilli became an instant favourite in the city of Toronto. The 39-year-old clearly did not hide the kid in him, as he would never attempt to suppress his emotions after a solid performance in a critical game. Time and time again, Jays’ fans would witness him strikeout the final batter of the inning and proceed to pump his fists and holler encouraging words at his teammates.

Grilli seemed to become a better pitcher with age. From age 34 to age 38, Grilli never owned an ERA over 4 and also had an ERA of fewer than 3 in four of these five seasons. However, in 2016 at the age of 39, Grilli started the season with the Braves putting up atrocious numbers. In the 17 innings that he pitched with the Braves in the 2016 season, he gave up 10 earned runs and 13 walks while having an ERA over 5. The Braves then dealt Grilli to the Blue Jays for Sean Ratcliffe in late May of 2016. With a return like this on Grilli, it was evident that the Braves were thinking that he no longer had any value to the team and his career was coming to a screeching halt.

Boy were the Braves wrong.

The Blue Jays quickly came to realize the Grilli was a crucial piece to their team both on and off the field. Not only was he an inspiration and a mentor to the young athletes on the Jays’ roster but his career also seemed to resurrect with a change of scenery. Grilli would pitch 42 innings for the Jays in the final 4 months of the 2016 season with a very respectable 6-4 record and a 3.64 ERA.

After being a key part of the Blue Jays’ organization in 2016, the Blue Jays picked up the option of Grilli’s contract to keep the veteran pitcher with the Jays for the 2017 season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the move has not paid off through the first two months of the season.

Grilli owns a mediocre 2-4 record with a disastrous ERA of 8.15. Grilli has never had an ERA that high in his 15 year career.

On Saturday against the Yankees, Grilli actually made it into the Blue Jays’ record books for most home runs allowed by a reliever in a single inning. He was tagged for four home runs in the 8th inning as the Jays would fall to the Yankees 7-0.

Understandably, Grilli did not want to speak to the media following his embarrassing relief appearance. However, I think it’s time to discuss something that most Jays’ fans would rather sweep under the rug and turn their backs to.

Jason Grilli’s career will likely be over at the end of the 2017 season.

Not only that, but it is probable that he will be playing in less critical roles this season considering that it is in the team’s best interest not to jeopardize potential victories by bringing in a reliever who simply has not gotten the job done this season.

When he came over from Atlanta last season, he had one last stint at being a key guy on a baseball club that had a fair chance at winning the World Series. The new opportunity allowed the veteran pitcher to turn back the clock temporarily, but once the 2016 season came to an end, so did the dominant performances of Jason Grilli.

Although it’s becoming more and more evident that the 40-year-old will be incapable of being an effective pitcher in the majors, personally I want to thank Jason Grilli for what he has done for the Blue Jays’ organization.

After being able to live out his dream of playing for the Blue Jays, he nearly helped lead them to a championship in his first season with the Jays. Not only that, but it’s clear that Grilli has had quite an impact on motivating and inspiring the Blue Jays to work to their potential, just like he did in the late stages of his career. The intangibles that he brings to a team like the Toronto Blue Jays is outstanding and although his career has faltered performance wise, the fact still remains that he is the heart and soul of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Thank you Jason Grilli for all that you’ve done in your brief time with Toronto.

By Luke Appia – Statboy