Oliver on pace for stellar season in Toronto

Oliver on pace for stellar season in Toronto

Oliver on pace for stellar season in Toronto
TORONTO -- For Darren Oliver, age is just a number.

The 41-year-old, whom the Blue Jays acquired as a free agent in the offseason, has posted the best ERAs of his career in each of the past four years, and 2012 has been no different.

Through 32 appearances with Toronto, and 28 1/3 innings after a 7-5 win on Friday, Oliver is sporting a team-best 1.59 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, which would both be the top marks of his 19-year career.

The Blue Jays knew Oliver could be a key piece to the bullpen, but even skipper John Farrell admits the southpaw has given Toronto even more than it could have possibly asked for.

"He can do a lot of different things with the ball," Farrell said. "He can cut some balls in on some guys, change speeds with his curveball to get guys to chase, sink the ball away from a given hitter. I think initially, when we signed him, we had visions of, 'OK this is someone who can come in and get a lefty out,' but when you look at what he is doing against right-handers, it's of equal efficiency."

Oliver is actually pitching better against righties than left-handers. He is holding lefties to a very solid .229 batting average, but that number is even stingier against right-handers. Righties are hitting just .160 off Oliver.

He is also averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has recorded seven holds on the season.

Farrell believes Oliver's awareness on the mound has played a big factor in the success he has enjoyed in the latter stages of his career.

"He knows how to manage situations and when to pitch around a guy in a different spot," Farrell said. "He has such a feel for reading swings. ... He has good stuff, too. It's a testament to not only his intelligence on the mound, but the way he has kept himself in shape. ... He has done a heck of a job."