The Toronto Blue Jays and Chad Jenkins have enjoyed a strange little relationship since he was selected in round one of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. He’s started, relieved, but for the most part, he’s captained a shuttle bus between the Blue Jays MLB roster and the AAA Buffalo Bisons. His time on the 25-man roster was brief and fleeting early in 2015, but his Friday promotion gives the club some length that may come in handy with three games scheduled in just over 24 hours.
Jenkins recently wrapped up a successful campaign with the Bisons, sporting a 2.98 ERA after making 11 starts in 41 appearances. Five of Jenkins’ last six outings came in a starting role, and after going 6.0 innings on September 4th, rest and endurance should not be a problem.
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He was especially strong against right-handed batters in 2015, holding them to a 1.89 ERA and allowing just one home run over 52.1 combined innings. Jenkins’ splits at AAA also paint him as a stronger reliever (2.60 ERA) than starter (3.33).
This afternoon’s double-header, which will again depend on the New York weather, makes the inclusion of Jenkins logical. An afternoon start on Sunday afternoon makes it likely that some members of Toronto’s bullpen will be either limited or unavailable for one or more of the games in this series. Given that Marcus Stroman is making his first MLB start in nearly one year during the second part of the double-header, some length from the ‘pen may be necessary insurance. Even Dickey, despite his recent surge, has been known to have an “off” night, so the Jays will look to protect their high-end arms whenever possible.
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In a doomsday scenario, Jenkins also represents the Blue Jays’ one starting option outside of the current six-man rotation, unless you want to include Jeff Francis. While even I, the most enthusiastic of Jenkins supporters, don’t want to see him anywhere near the first inning of a ball game, we’ve got to recognize the uncertainties in the current rotation and the lack of depth behind them
Mark Buehrle recently received a cortisone shot and has again been pushed back, while Marcus Stroman is returning from injury at warp speed. Drew Hutchison has been, well, bad. If all goes wrong at once, Jenkins represents some form of parachute for the Blue Jays to pull, albeit an underwhelming and unlikely one.
More than anything, and analysis be damned, it’s great to see a player rewarded for a quietly productive minor league campaign. Much like Matt Hague, Jenkins consistently performed at the AAA level while seeing his teammates leapfrog him onto the 25-man roster. In an ideal world, we don’t see Jenkins throw a pitch as the Blue Jays pitching staff collectively clicks. If necessary, though, Jenkins can stay afloat in a pinch.