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Struggles puzzle Osuna, concern Blue Jays

MLB.com @gregorMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted there is "concern" about Roberto Osuna after the third-year closer was handed his third blown save in four opportunities.

Osuna allowed a game-tying two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of Thursday afternoon's 8-4 loss to the Cardinals, which went 11. It was the fourth time in six appearances this season that Osuna has allowed at least one run, and his performance is one of the reasons Toronto leads the Major Leagues in blown saves with seven.

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ST. LOUIS -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted there is "concern" about Roberto Osuna after the third-year closer was handed his third blown save in four opportunities.

Osuna allowed a game-tying two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of Thursday afternoon's 8-4 loss to the Cardinals, which went 11. It was the fourth time in six appearances this season that Osuna has allowed at least one run, and his performance is one of the reasons Toronto leads the Major Leagues in blown saves with seven.

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Gibbons said before the game that he felt some of Osuna's struggles were related to a lack of work this season after the right-hander missed most of Spring Training with a sore neck. Following the game, Gibbons expressed a similar sentiment but conceded that the Blue Jays need to figure out how to get their closer back on track.

"Yeah, there's always concern," Gibbons said after Osuna surrendered Randal Grichuk's homer. "He still has plenty on the ball, but they're capitalizing on him, which is very unusual. So we have to figure it out."

Osuna's velocity was a hot topic of debate during his limited workload this spring. His velocity was down, and that has been the case during the regular season as well, but the problems run deeper than that. According to Statcast™, Osuna averaged 94 mph on his fastball during this latest appearance, and that, in and of itself, is not a problem. How he's getting there might be.

The 22-year-old is sitting closer to 93 mph with his four-seam fastball. He can ramp up and get that number higher -- his velocity maxed out at 96 mph on Thursday -- but it appears to be coming at the cost of his command. The home run that Grichuk hit out to straightaway center field was 94 mph, but it also went down the heart of the plate.

Osuna faced the media after his latest misstep and admitted he's searching for answers. He claims to be fully healthy and can't put a finger on why command has been such an issue during his first few weeks of the regular season.

"To be honest, I feel really good right now," Osuna said. "I just don't know what's going on. ... I feel good every time I go out there. It's tough with everything happening after two outs. One pitch, for some reason, and it's hard to figure out. I don't think I'm doing anything different or something is wrong with me. I feel great. I can't understand it."

The Blue Jays might have no other choice but to ride this out. Unless there's something physically wrong with Osuna that he's either unaware of, or not talking about, Toronto is pretty much forced to stick with him through these tough times. Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini and Joe Smith have all secured high-leverage jobs as setup men, but this team needs Osuna at his best to help turn this season around.

"I would say it is a little bit of everything," Osuna said when asked why his mechanics are out of whack. "Today I located my fastball really good for the first three hitters and I missed one pitch right in the middle. For me, I'm not doing anything different. When I don't have the fastball control, it doesn't change anything in my mind or in my plan."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Roberto Osuna