Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison pitches against theAtlanta Braves at Turner Field. Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Drew Hutchison, A Potential Starter?

The Toronto Blue Jays have many candidates to look at this spring training for the fifth starting pitcher. Right-hander Drew Hutchison, 23, may be the best option. Why? Dependability! If there is something the Jays need after the disastrous 2013 season, it is a solid starter to anchor their rotation.

Sceptics might not like the use of the adjective “dependable” when referring to Hutchison since an arm injury knocked him out of his rookie season in July, 2012. Many others will argue that Hutchison is reliable since he worked hard to get his arm back in shape after his Tommy John surgery and started pitching like a vet.

In 2012, Hutchison had a good record, 5-3, with 4 quality starts in 11 appearances. However, he had a high ERA of 4.60 and sub-par WHIP of 1.347.

Hutchison resurrected his career in 2013 with his rehab pitching performance with the Salt Water Rafters in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) where he won the player of week award in November, 2013. It was this new and improved Hutchison that opened baseball sages’ eyes.

His ERA was 3.32, his WHIP 1.13, and the opposition batting average .213 in 21.2 innings pitched. Granted, this is a small sample size and the AFL is not the majors.

The Toronto Blue Jays picked Hutchison, 6’2″, out of Lakeland Florida High School in the 15th round of the 2009 draft. Scouts have always commented on his solid athleticism, body control and his ability to field his position well. Hutchison has an upside too. The Blue Jays organization believes he could make a good mid-rotation pitcher with more experience in the Show.

Hutchison has a three-pitch mix. He has excellent command of his fastball which reaches the mid-90s. He throws it 75 percent of the time. He has a plus-slider which is deceptive as is his change-up. Hutchison is consistent with his speed, arm slot, timing and release with these latter two pitches. He hides the ball well and his mechanics, e.g., his short arm circle, make it tough for hitters to pick it up. Hutchison throws strikes but he will not mow batters down; instead, he hits his spots surgically or beguiles batters to chase. Like Mark Beurhle, Hutchison works quickly, leaving the opposition little time to regroup.

The Jays have many candidates for the fifth spot behind R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and J.A. Happ. Still, the starting pitching rotation situation is fluid. There is a lot of speculation on whether a free agent like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana might knock Happ down to the fifth slot. That would mean Hutchison would begin 2014 in Buffalo. If such an acquisition does not take place, Hutchison, still has to compete with rotation depth pitchers such as Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, Kyle Drabek, Sean Nolin, long-suffering Ricky Romero, prospect Marcus Stroman, as well as career-survivor and stretched-out Dustin McGowan. Talk about a run-on sentence of competition.

Competition is good. It motivates. Here is an example. Spring Training 2014 began unofficially last week with all the 5th spot candidates arriving early. Drew Hutchison; however, has advantages. He is an experienced starter who is extremely athletic and fields well. He has good mechanics over three pitches. He throws with deception and control. He is a determined survivor. Most importantly, he is dependable pitcher, something the Jays desperately need.

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  • jays4life77

    I am secretly rooting for McGowan….i know his chances of winning the spot or surviving a season may be slim but he has the best pure stuff out of any starter in the Jays organization, flat out no one touches what he has even after all these injuries. If he can harness his control and stay healthy he is a legitimate number 1 or 2 starter and always has had that potential his problem has just be health. Aside from McGowan i think Hutchison would make the most sense. Someone who isnt max effort on every pitch, someone who doesnt have to blow hitters away and can rely on control. He can log innings because of his control which should limit his pitch count so he can survive. Stroman is not ready, they are going to rush him like they do every other prospect and ruin his confidence much like the did with Nolin last year. Drabek seems more like a bullpen arm then starter from his 2 tj surgeries and lack of control or he works out the kinks in AAA, Redmond and Rogers should be depth in case of injuries but should not be relied upon to carry a heavy load as they showed last year they can have some good starts here and there but arent great and i would rather have consistency with upside that Mcgowan or Hutchison bring. Well maybe not the consistency yet but upside for sure.

    • jays4life77

      Oh, and i think Sean Nolin needs some seasoning in AAA as well, the jays need to do a better job of getting pitchers beyond AA to see if they are ready, follow Tampa’s rule and make them pitch so many minor league innings before they get a taste of the show just to get them conditioned for the work load the MLB has. Rushing prospects or even non prospects leads us to where we are today. No home grown talent that are ready and the ones that have gotten here either got injured very quickly or beat up cuz they were rushed here.

  • brad

    all depends on whether his control has come back. He made his money throwing strikes and last season he didn’t have it back yet. Hutch has the potential to be a good #2 starter but it may not be until next season or maybe later this year. If he has it in spring training then he is one of the best pitchers in camp

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