Blue Jays running out of time, and ideas, with Drew Hutchison

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The Toronto Blue Jays have been playing a game of chicken every time Drew Hutchison takes the mound. More often than not, their otherworldly offense chooses those nights to have an outburst and save the Blue Jays from a poor pitching performance. This tradition of coincidence is due to tail off at any time, however, and Toronto can’t afford for that to happen in the middle of a playoff race.

Despite last night’s win moving his record to 10-2, which is quite possibly the most deceiving statistic in all of Major League Baseball, Hutchison’s ERA remains at 5.42. Four of Minnesota’s seven runs came unearned last night, and we should give the right-hander a break for that, but let’s not wash them out completely. Surrendering a home run to Miguel Sano still counts on the scoreboard, regardless of what came before it.

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Hutchison has now lasted 6.0 innings in just one of his past ten starts, which came on July 17th against Tampa Bay. Despite those low inning totals, he’s allowed seven hits or more in seven of those ten starts, and walked two or more batters in eight. When you add an elevated pitch count on top of that, Hutch has been a half-game pitcher who has slid by on the fortune of his offense.

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With David Price now providing a true ace at the top of the rotation and R.A. Dickey entering August as hot as any pitcher in the game, a black hole at the back end of the starting five is a frustrating matter, regardless of how talented the bullpen can be when picking up the pieces. Toronto does not need shutout baseball from their fifth man, they just need competency. Six to seven innings with a 3.90-4.10 ERA is all we’re asking here.

I’ve lost very little faith in Hutchison long-term, but like Aaron Loup, we’ve reached the point where it’s simply not his season. I’d love to see him turn it around and be the story of the stretch run, and when you look at Toronto’s pitching depth, he might have to.

If the Blue Jays had a clearcut upgrade in-house, Hutchison would be pitching for the Buffalo Bisons already. Aaron Sanchez would require stretching out, again, while the same would go for Liam Hendriks, who’s developed into a legitimate bullpen threat. Randy Wolf and Jeff Francis are rocking in AAA, but how confident are we with them making 10 starts in the Majors? Not very.

Keep an eye on Alex Anthopoulos over the next week as he’ll be scouring outright waivers and trade waivers for reinforcements. This offense cannot continue to pick up Hutchison at the rate it has, and whether it comes from Hutch himself or a new face on the mound, something needs to change. Not next week, not after we’ve tried this once or twice more. Now.

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