Toronto Blue Jays: Drew Hutchison Headlines a Weak Rotation


Toronto Blue Jays: Drew Hutchison Headlines a Weak Rotation

Jul 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Hutchison has only pitched beyond the sixth inning twice this season. In his last five starts, he hasn’t been able to reach the six-inning mark once. This doesn’t bode well for the Toronto Blue Jays‘ fledgling playoff hopes – they can’t afford another dead spot in their starting rotation.

An 8-4 record on the season partly disguises Hutchison’s struggles. He’s also collected three wins in his last five starts, which makes it easy to look past the short outings. His struggles are still taking a toll, however, especially on the over taxed bullpen.

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  • Hutchison’s struggles boil down to two things: juicy pitches and poor command. He was tagged for eight hits and two walks across 4.2 innings of work last night in an 8-6 losing effort against the Detroit Tigers. On the season, he has a WHIP of 1.47 and a BAA of .291 – both career highs.

    Since reaching the big leagues in 2012, we’ve seen Hutchison struggle on several occasions – for a while, he couldn’t win at home, then he couldn’t win on the road – but he always seemed to bounce back and the promise of his potential was enough to keep us hooked.

    That potential remains very real, but there’s no denying that Hutchison has suffered a major regression this season. An 8-4 record shouldn’t blind management, the coaching staff or the fans from this simple fact. It may even be wise to rest Hutchison for a bit or send him down on a conditioning stint.

    Mar 1, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) practices drills during spring training workouts at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Unfortunately, a weak rotation makes this difficult and it highlights the primary deficiency on this team: they don’t have enough reliable starters. The Jays are already carrying a dead spot in the rotation, awaiting Aaron Sanchez‘s return, and beyond Mark Buehrle, it’s never really clear what you’ll get from R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada or Hutchison. This isn’t how championship teams are built, and it might even prevent the Jays from reaching the playoffs in a season where the American League East is wide open.

    It’s at times like these that I wonder if the Jays made the right call on J.A. Happ. These kinds of judgments are hard to justify since they’re based completely on hindsight, but we haven’t seen much of Michael Saunders and he might not even have a position to fill upon his return with the emergence of Chris Colabello as a hitting machine. Happ, meanwhile, is plugging away for the Seattle Mariners with a 3-4 record. His peripheral numbers aren’t great – a 3.93 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and .276 BAA – but they look decent when compared to Hutchison’s numbers. (Keep in mind it’s the offence that has fuelled Hutchison’s win total, not his own stuff.)

    Jun 21, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher J.A. Happ (33) throws out a pitch during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

    I guess my real complaint is that general manager Alex Anthopoulos spent the off-season acquiring position players like Saunders, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson – all good players and welcome additions to the team – while completely ignoring the obvious weak point on this team: pitching.

    There’s still time to address this problem, but it could’ve been avoided altogether in the first place if Anthopoulos knew his team. The decision to rely on unproven pitching talents like Hutchison, Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Marcus Stroman underlies the fallacy in Anthopoulos’ vision for this team. These pitchers may be young and full of potential, but they’re not playoff-caliber players at this point in these respective careers.

    Thus, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that we still find ourselves outside the playoff picture and this’ll remain the case until Anthopoulos decides to act and takes in the obvious lesson from his team: get us someone who can pitch – it’s that simple.

    Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson