The Toronto Blue Jays’ Success This Season Hinges on Drew Hutchison


The Toronto Blue Jays’ Success This Season Hinges on Drew Hutchison

With a record of 9-2, it might be easy to ask why all the fuss over Drew Hutchison.

After all, he leads the Toronto Blue Jays in wins after Mark Buehrle (10-5), which is pretty impressive when you factor in the fact Hutchison is only 24 years old and has just three big league seasons under his belt. Veteran pitchers on the team like R.A. Dickey (3-10) and Marco Estrada (6-5) would embrace those numbers.

Jul 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

That’s true and everything looks good until you turn your attention to Hutchison’s peripheral numbers.

He’s actually carrying a career-worst 5.19 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, which are disguised behind by the big win total, while opposing batters are hitting .292 against him. If it wasn’t for some mighty healthy run support, Hutchison’s frontline numbers might look a lot closer to what Estrada has posted or worse: he could very easily be pitching in Dickey territory.

Here it’s interesting to note that Dickey boasts a healthier ERA, WHIP, opposing batter’s average, ground ball out ratio and fly out ration than Hutchison. The key difference is run support: Hutchison leads the MLB in this department with an average of 6.84 runs in support per game while Dickey enjoys essentially half that support at 3.78. (Buehrle ranks second in run support across the league at 6.44.)

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  • A few extra runs, especially when your ERA sits north of 5.00, can make all the difference.

    The split stats tell another interesting story about Hutchison. His record at home is 7-1 with an ERA of 2.21 and a WHIP of 1.05. It’s really only on the road that he finds himself in trouble: 2-1 record, 8.81 ERA and 1.98 WHIP. He appears equally effective/ineffective in night or day games depending on where the game is located.

    Some people have argued that this inconsistency is something that Hutchison must master, but it’s not really an issue of inconsistency. He’s numbers at home are pretty consistent and the same can be said about his numbers on the road. The real problem is that his road numbers are simply atrocious.

    Jun 23, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    This is the reverse of the problem that plagued Hutchison last season – he couldn’t pitch at home. I’m inclined to see this wild swing as a psychological problem – perhaps he just now prefers the hitter-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre? – rather than a mechanical issue. If he could just figure out why things don’t work out for him on the road, everything would be fine.

    For the Jays, it’s important that Hutchison figures things out sooner rather than later. It could make all the difference at the trade deadline.

    An improved Hutchison on the road would take a lot of the pressure off of general manager Alex Anthopoulos to trade away tomorrow’s pitching depth for some immediate relief on the mound. It also makes you wonder where both Hutchison’s record and the team’s record would stand today if he pitched to his potential on the road.

    As the Jays enter the second half of the season, everything could come down to Hutchison. He has the potential to influence the future direction of the club, but first he must learn to direct his stuff from the mound on the road.

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