My what a difference a year makes. At this point last year, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Drew Hutchison was trying to find his way back from his 2012 Tommy John Surgery. Last night, he came full circle in tossing his 1st complete game shutout of his young major league career.
Determining what was the most impressive part of this start is difficult. Perhaps it was that Hutchison had the daunting task of taking on a Texas Rangers lineup that is fifth in baseball at getting on base (.330 Team OBP), and only allowed three hits and a total of four baserunners all night. Or maybe it was that Hutchison was in control all evening, pitching in almost Greg Maddux-like fashion. The man named Drew may have very well put together the best outing by a Blue Jays pitcher this season… and he had to against the likes of Rangers starter Yu Darvish.
Darvish was in control of the game himself until the 8th, when recent AAA call-up Erik Kratz delivered a surprise bunt for the Jays. Kratz was followed by fellow Buffalo call-up Anthony Gose, who dropped an even better bunt and ran like a gazelle down the 1st base line. Jays SS Jose Reyes would then hit a hard line drive that would take former Jay Alex Rios to the wall. This allowed Kratz to get to 3rd, but created a double play opportunity for Darvish and Texas. Melky Cabrera would have none of that as he hit a scorching line drive off Darvish that Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland couldn’t get to, allowing Kratz and Gose to score.
It was a tough luck loss for Darvish, as he only allowed 5 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 11 over 8 innings. Hutchison, however deserved this win, outdueling Darvish in a game that may not get the attention it deserved (ESPN.com and SI.com had Max Scherzer outdueling Lester on its mainpage headlines, but no mention of Hutchison outdueling Yu).
A few quick stats to show just how impressive Hutchison was last night:
- He only needed 105 pitches to get the job done against the Rangers.
- With the CHG considered to be his “out” pitch, he threw only 4 all night.
- He had a GB% of 31%, which is seems ridiculously low, yet true.
- He threw only more than 15 pitches in an inning just once (16 in the 6th).
- His xFIP says 3.67, yet his ERA for the evening said 0.00. One more reason why I don’t always appreciate Sabremetrics.
- He struck out Prince Fielder more times than J.P. Arencibia (2 to 1).
- (non-Hutchison point, but needed to be said) Oddly enough, this now makes the Blue Jays 4-0 in games when Kyle Drabek doesn’t start against Yu Darvish.
You also have to tip your cap (or not) to Blue Jays coach John Gibbons. A lot of managers might have pulled Hutchison from the game in the 9th considering the circumstances (such as Hutchison being a recent Tommy John recipient, and it was a 2-0 game, Hutch was around 100 pitches and allowed a man to reach first). But not ol’ Gibby. He let the kid pitch and in the process made a statement: “I have faith in Drew Hutchison.” Gibbons may not be alone in that sentiment. It’s still early, but if Hutchison can stay healthy, perhaps this statement
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) May 17, 2014
might ring true.