If the Blue Jays want to avoid another disaster like last night’s bullpen meltdown version 2-point-oh-dear-God-I’ve-lost-count-already, they’ll probably need Drew Hutchison to go all 9 innings tonight.
Save for Mark Buerhle’s hilariously lucky start to the season (c’mon guys, you think a 35-year-old with an 83 mph fastball is going to keep up an ERA around 2 all year? Especially considering his xFIP is almost 2 runs higher than his ERA, his HR/FB% is an hilariously unsustainable 3.3%, his line drive % is more than 10 points above his career average at 31.1% AND *deep breath* only 2 pitchers have given up more hard hit balls than Buehrle this year) Drew Hutchison has been the Blue Jays’ best pitcher.
And as John Lott of the National Post pointed out, a lot of that has to do with his ability to throw his change up, especially to righties. Hutchison is 6th in MLB in strikeout % behind household names like Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer and Masahiro Tanaka.
It’s also interesting to note – with all the talk around Blue Jays land recently surrounding Marcus Stroman – that Stroman has been developing a change up to add to his repertoire. A repertoire which is already freakishly similar to Hutchison’s. They both throw their fastball in the low-to-mid 90s range, they both feature a softer fastball with a bit of movement (Hutchison sinker, Stroman cutter) and a slider. The success that Hutchison’s had with his change up (according to PITCHf/x on FanGraphs it’s been his most valuable pitch) and how similar his stuff seems to be to Stroman’s likely has a lot to do with the organization pushing him to develop it. According to a Baseball America post written before Stroman’s start last night, his change up is currently an average pitch but flashes plus potential.
Buerhle and Stroman tangents aside, Hutchison has been quietly putting together an excellent and encouraging season. If you arbitrarily remove (my new favourite thing to do) his start vs. the Yankees, he’s allowed 4 earned runs in 4 starts. His BABIP (.364) and FIP suggest he’s not on lady luck’s good side either, meaning that if he can keep pitching the way he is now, there will be even better days ahead.
As for the lineup, and as Matt mentioned in last night’s recap, there’s lots to be positive about. Melky Cabrera set a Blue Jays’ record with 40 hits before May 1. He’s hit safely in 25 of 26 games, including eleven in a row. Jose Bautista took his league-leading 28th walk, and has now reached base in all 26 games this year. Jose Reyes, Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus all had 2 hit nights, which is encouraging even if one of Reyes’ was a little bit lucky. I still think this lineup should easily be top 10 in the MLB if not top 5 once everything starts clicking. Here’s today’s lineup:
|Blue Jays 04/30 (12-14)|
Notes: Juan Francisco at 3rd!!!
As always, don’t forget to follow on Twitter: