It was starting to become somewhat of a running joke. Whenever the Toronto Blue Jays needed to add an arm to the bullpen, Chad Jenkins would get the call-up. Whenever the team needed to make a corresponding roster move, Chad Jenkins would be send back down. All and all, Jenkins has seen his name shuffled between the Blue Jays and Buffalo Bisons roster three times already this season.
The poor kid probably kept a getaway bag tucked in his hotel room closet.
Yet here we are, eight days since his last call-up and Chad Jenkins has finally a few opportunities to pitch and make himself useful. And he’s taking advantage of those chances.
That much was apparent when he came on in relief of a very mediocre J.A. Happ on Tuesday night. With two-outs in the top of the fourth, and runners on second and third, Jenkins induced a much needed ground-out from Brian Dozier to end the frame and stop the bleeding with the Jays down 4-0. He would then carry the next three innings on his back, allowing just one hit and a walk, while striking out three on the evening.
That was a continuation of what Jenkins has offered since his last call-up. In three appearances over the last eight days, Jenkins has thrown 6.2 innings of 3-hit ball, while walking two, striking out four, and stranding three inherited runners in the process. Those appearances have helped the Blue Jays weather two short outings from Happ and another from R.A. Dickey.
Now ideally, you don’t carry a reliever to piggy-back a starter at the Major League level, but the trends for Happ and, unfortunately, Dickey has shown a need to carry an arm or two to help take the stress of the late-inning arms. Pairing Jenkins with Todd Redmond has done just that, giving the Blue Jays the chance to save arms like Dustin McGowan, Aaron Loup, Steve Delabar, and Brett Cecil to help bridge the game to closer Casey Janssen rather than serving mop-up duty.
Of course, there are the looming returns of center fielder Colby Rasmus and reliever Sergio Santos coming, and somewhere in the back of his mind, Chad Jenkins understands that he faces the possibility of returning to Buffalo in the near future. For now, he’s just taking advantage of chances and proving he can find a home in a Major League bullpen.
And just in case, he’s keeping that getaway bag tucked in the back of the closet..