TORONTO -- Rookie right-hander Drew Hutchison provided the Blue Jays with a much-needed quality start on Monday night in a development that will go a long way toward helping an overtaxed bullpen.
The Blue Jays entered a three-game series against Baltimore with a depleted relief corps that forced the club into a series of roster moves in recent days. Toronto needed a total of 13 2/3 innings from its bullpen on Friday and Saturday, leaving the relievers fatigued at the beginning of the week.
Hutchison delivered with a career-high nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings while topping out with a surprising 95-mph fastball.
"I think he found something out about himself last night, just with his intensity and use of his lower half in his legs that really created some additional velocity and what's really impressive is that he carried it through the seven innings," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
"Maybe a little bit of an adjustment in his own attitude, the way he attacked brought out more power. When you look at it, his fastball graded out two grades better. I think he found something out about himself last night."
The extended outing meant the Blue Jays entered play on Tuesday with all eight of their relievers available for action. The team is still carrying an extra pitcher as a precautionary measure, but Farrell does not believe that will become a long-term solution to the problem.
Toronto likely will re-evaluate that situation on Thursday's off-day prior to a three-game set against division-rival Boston.
"Our rotation," Farrell said when asked what the deciding factor would be. "As long as they maintain what they've done for the majority of this year, we just want to make sure we don't have one of those games where we're right back into it where we're overusing guys."
Off-days give Blue Jays options with rotation
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are in the process of evaluating their options in the starting rotation, with a pair of off-days coming up in the next six days.
Toronto does not have a game scheduled for either Thursday or Monday, and the ideal situation would see one starter skipped so Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow are not required to go seven days between outings.
The tentative plan is to temporarily go to a four-man rotation, but that ultimately will depend on how both Tuesday and Wednesday's games unfold against the Orioles.
"There's nothing decided yet as we monitor everything," Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "We have the ability to adjust some things over the next week because of the two off-days, but we'll just make sure we come out of the next two days and how guys are feeling physically, both in Ricky and Brandon's case, if we choose to keep them on turn and hold back one of the other guys."
Right-hander Drew Hutchison was originally considered the prime candidate to be skipped, but that may have changed following his seven scoreless innings on Monday night. He is expected to receive strong consideration to make his next start, while right-hander Kyle Drabek could now be on the outs.
Drabek has struggled with his control in recent outings and on Sunday surrendered a career-high nine runs against the Rangers. Toronto could use the time to get Drabek back on track with his mechanics, but a final decision isn't expected until after the series finale vs. Baltimore.