Blue Jays finally make the call, send Drew Hutchison to bullpen


The Blue Jays have finally made some sort of decision regarding struggling starter Drew Hutchison. The right-hander will be sent to the bullpen the for the time being, pitching coach Pete Walker announced this afternoon on Sportsnet’s Baseball Central, but the door hasn’t been closed on him making another start later in the season.

Walker was full of information today, as he also announced that Marco Estrada would, indeed, be making the start in game three of Toronto’s upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. This leaves Marcus Stroman to start the series opener against the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre on Friday night. There may be a few fans in attendance that night.

This move has been a long time coming for Hutchison, and as I said on the most recent episode of the Jays Nest Podcast, a veteran journeyman on a low-cost contract may not have been afforded such a long opportunity to right the ship. Hutchison’s potential and history with the organization earned him the benefit of the doubt time after time, but alas, it has run dry.

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Hutchison owns a 5.33 ERA to go along with his misleading 13-4 record, and through 147.0 innings pitched, the Blue Jays have correctly decided that it’s best to look towards 2016 with Hutchison in terms of the starting rotation.

There have been moments for Hutch, though, always coming in a timely fashion and buying him another handful of outings. He still possesses a great deal of longterm potential and has the ability to maintain a K/9 greater than 9.0, but he’s clearly been battling some mechanical issues. The Blue Jays have been adjusting Hutchison’s fundamentals throughout the season, but that’s obviously not the ideal time to rebuild a pitcher. This offseason will be critical.

In leaving the door cracked open to another start, my belief is that Walker is eyeing the scenario in which the Blue Jays clinch the AL East early, something I explored here earlier today. This scenario would allow manager John Gibbons to align his rotation as he pleased, and Hutchison could receive a starting nod to avoid adding unnecessary innings to an arm bound for the playoff rotation.

Maybe Hutchison wows as a reliever, but barring a miracle, this is the nail in his forgettable 2015. That’s fine, and it’s by no means the nail in his young career. The spotlight now shifts to Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman who enter a three-way race for what could potentially be two spots in the playoff rotation.

Next: Jays playoff roster: The case for Pompey

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