Drew Hutchison a 2015 Blue Jays’ breakout candidate
Drew Hutchison is too often left out of the conversation of “young” Toronto Blue Jays’ arms, but at 24-years old and coming off a season full of encouraging signs, the right-hander is a candidate to break out in a big way in 2015.
In his return to the Major Leagues following a Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2012, Drew Hutchison put up an 11-13 record over 184.2 innings, a workload that the Toronto Blue Jays have to be pleased with. Hutchison showed flashes of developing into a dominant strikeout pitcher, averaging 9.0 K/9. His complete game shutout against the Texas Rangers on May 16th forced the league to take notice, but with only 17 of his 32 starts seeing him record 6.0IP or more, Hutchison still showed inconsistencies.
In 2015, I see Drew Hutchison taking a big step forward, and that will need to begin with pushing his 4.48 ERA from 2014 down below the 4.00 plateau. Russell Martin could benefit Hutchison in a big way, as his pitch framing and defensive abilities will earn the young starter a larger strike zone and help him him address his fly ball tendencies.
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In a very small sample size from this past season, Hutchison’s numbers suggest that consistency and quality behind the plate can impact his performance in a big way. In 25 starts with Dioner Navarro, Hutchison recorded a 3.57 ERA. That number shoots to an ugly 7.71 in his 6 starts paired with Erik Kratz.
Martin should help Hutchison to stay down and away from opposing hitters, and although he is likely to be a fly ball pitcher regardless, this should allow him to keep his home runs and extra base hits to a manageable level.
It is Hutchison’s ability to excel against left-handed hitters, however, that will truly determine his potential ceiling at the MLB level. Opposing righties held a meagre slash line of .224 / .272 / .343 against Drew Hutchison in 2014, but lefties hit him around to the tune of .263 / .334 / .477. Hutchison’s average fastball velocity climbed to 92.2MPH in 2014, and a continued growth in this area paired with an improved changeup could be his ticket to success against the left-handers.
With Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris all possessing top-of-the-rotation talent and young arms like Jeff Hoffman and Sean Reid-Foley loaded with potential in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues, the Blue Jays’ rotation could be exciting in the coming seasons. To think that all of these arms will pan out is naive, unfortunately. The reality of baseball is that the story of Ricky Romero is all too common. In Drew Hutchison, though, the Blue Jays have an arm that can sit in the middle of the rotation and perform above the league average for his slot.
With a strikeout approach and a ceiling he has yet to hit, Drew Hutchison is my breakout candidate for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. Who is yours?