Far be it from me to make too much of a deal of a comment Alex Anthopoulos made that I simply don’t have the perfectly-reasonable explanation for– or… actually… that kinda sounds exactly like something I’d do– but I was struck by something the Jays GM said about prospect Drew Hutchison during a scrum with the media after yesterday’s Spring Training win over the Phillies.

Asked, as heard in an audio clip posted by Wilner at Miked Up, about non-40-man guys who are surprisingly still in camp– Jon Diaz, Yan Gomes, and Drew Hutchison– Anthopoulos explained that the first two are mainly still around because of their roles. They’re looked upon as utility-type bench players, the GM says, because they’re serving that role at this point in camp as well.

“Hutch,” he continued, “is more the fact that we’re going to watch his innings. Normally he would be sent out, if he was going to be built up to five innings and so on, but we’re going to probably keep his innings down at the beginning of the year– two to three innings, for the sake of argument. We haven’t finalized all that yet. He’s on a five man swing– a five man rotation– right now. He’s up to three innings, he’s not going to go beyond that [for now]. So, it doesn’t do him any harm to be here, he’s not on the 40, so if anything, guys like Deck and Jenkins have a little more rope to get built up, and that’s why they needed to get down there, to be built up a little bit more.”

Interesting. Especially since Drew Hutchison threw 149.1 innings last year, between A-ball, high-A and double-A, while McGuire threw just 125.1, and averaged practically the same number of innings per appearance (though Jenkins, it should be noted, tossed 167.2 innings .

So… what exactly is the deal there? Are the Jays simply planning ahead for Hutchison having an extended season by way of a September call-up? With the expectation that he’s going to be getting regular turns in the big league rotation? Or maybe just saving his bullets to help them in some kind of a stretch run?

I’m not saying I’m opposed to it or anything, I’m just a little surprised by the plan. Have I missed something here?

Comments (38)

  1. I think it has to do with Deck McGuire being a little older with College experience under his belt, however Hutchinson only has 2 years of experience post high school

  2. I don’t get it… there’s no way they’re thinking of a relief role. I hope there’s nothing wrong with his arm.

  3. Obviously he is being saved for a playoff play-in where he will pull a Matt Moore, tossing a brilliant game before handing it over to the bullpen to close out the Red Sox, thus securing the first playoff series for the Jays since OJ.

  4. If he’s healthy, I have no doubt he’ll be up with the club in September. I believe a full Double-A season + playoffs would run about 170-175 innings on an arm, so Anthopolous probably thinks by shaving off 10-20 innings in April, he can have Hutchison for 2-3 starts in September, like Drabek at the end of ’10.

  5. Yeah, when I read this my first thought was that they’re expecting him to make the big league club at some point this summer, and they don’t want to have to shut him down before the end of the season a la Morrow in 2010. I can’t think of any other reason they’d be interested in limiting his innings early in the season.

  6. I think its just precaution. The goal could be getting Hutch pitching 7+ innings a game consistantly. If you assume he doesn’t miss a start over the course of just the 142 game MiLB that is still 28 starts. If he averaged 7 innings a pop that is 191 innings. Add in some September starts and you could easily go over 200 innings which would be a huge jump for him.

    However if you limit his April starts (and maybe some of May) before letting him lose you could keep that number down to 165 innings or so+ whatever extra he pitches in the MiLB playoffs/MLB in september.

    If something happens and you can only get him to say 150 innings again you can always send him to the AFL to get some of those extra innings.

    • that sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation.

    • That makes sense, but presumably if he’s going 7+ innings it’s because he’s effective. If he ends up going 5 innings in some games, he’ll still be throwing roughly the same number of pitches, as he’ll just have thrown more per inning (aka The Morrow Disease). Which isn’t to say that you’re wrong, just more of a general point that counting innings is an inexact science.

  7. Kind of weird though.. I mean all the reasoning about saving him for a stretch run makes sense to me, controlling his innings for the year etc… but doesn’t he need to be stretched out so that he has the ability to safely go deeper into games? I honestly have no real proof of this but it strikes me that it’s hard to jump from 3 innings to 6-7… though maybe they don’t care and they’ll stretch him out later in the year for the reasons mentioned earlier, since they have so many arms at AA and AAA. Also, not sure where he’ll be, but the less hitters he faces during home games in Vegas (if he’s there), the better.

  8. Makes perfect sense.. Mcgowan can’t go the full season, so they are building him up slowly so that they can call him up midseason and not have him already at 130 Innings, ready to be shut down.

    They have Drabek, Jenkins, and Laffey for Injury callups, they’ve designated Hutch for Mcgowans replacement

    • It is a little strange that they wouldn’t be viewing Drabek as McGowan’s replacement. Isn’t it?

      • He could be but the difference is Drabek can pitch a full season at this point without innings limits imo…

        yes he only threw 155 innings last year but that was due more to getting pulled early from some games than an innings limit.

      • Drabek is Cecil’s replacement methinks.

    • This makes perfect sense if you expect to be in a playoff run. You would want a couple of quality arms for a September callup that can eat some innings and give the regular starters some rest.
      Wildcard teams don’t have many days off before the playoffs start, so they would need to re-arrange their playoff rotation in September.

    • it’s exactly this. need someone to come up when dustin hits his innings cap. knock on wood

  9. McGowan will be shut down before the end of the year. They’ll need a replacement.

    • I don’t think McGowan will be shutdown unless he gets a tired arm. He’s 29 years old. If he’s healthy, he’ll pitch. They’ll watch pitch counts during games, maybe give him an extra day rest here and there, but I can’t see him being shut down arbitrarily at a certain number of innings. Just my opinion.

  10. Hmm well they WERE talking about shutting down McGowan at 150, whenever that occurs. But what if , given McGowans last 2 starts, they’ve revised their plan and decided to have Hutch ready if McG has problems? One more thing: how bout someone publishing the official “AA-speak-to-english” dictionary?

  11. I think you have to approach from the other end. It’s not ‘ why are they limiting his innings now’, it’s ‘he’s going to reach his limit anyways, why not keep him here’. The reason you send starters down halfway through camp, is that you can only have one pitcher throw 5 innings per day. Once starter’s get to 4 or 5 innings, they have to go down to continue their progression. You’d rather keep them in Major League camp to see them, but you also have to stretch out enough starters to fill the minors.
    The Jays have enough pitching to cover everything, so they can watch Hutchison first hand, knowing he can still get to his full innings limit, and it won’t affect their minor league teams.
    Stretch him to three innings, and expose him to Major League hitters. Probably has to go down soon anyways. Next time through, starters are at 6 innings.

  12. Why is this is news Stoeten?

    The Blue Jays sent like 12 different starters last year. Pretty much every team sends out 8 to 10 guys during the season. Contrast that to the old days, with 4 man rotations, its a different game. The Phillies, who were stacked with 3 aces, Oswalt and Worley in their rotation, were more old school. They sent out a total of 7 guys to make starts.

    It’s a long season. On top of the 5 staters currently in the rotation, Hutch, Jenkins and McGuire might all be September call-ups. And Drabek, Laffey, possibly Carreno, could see starts in-season to deal with injury or performance issues. That’s 11 guys.

  13. Question is, why is Hutch already on the 40 man? He would not have been exposed to the rule 5 draft, nor was he needed to make an appearance earlier. I would have assumed they would keep him off the 40 as long as possible to preserve options and service time.

    By comparison, Alvarez was added to the 40 man once he was within the 10 day window of not using an option IF he is returned to the minors. Lawrie was added once his debut was scheduled.

    I had it in the back of my mind that Jenkins (needs to be added to the 40 this season) would be ahead of McGuire (one more season before he NEEDS to be added). I suspected he (Jenkins) might even get a call-up ahead of Hutch due to this status.

    Am I overlooking something?

    • He’s not. I think that was a miscommunication, as neither Gomes or Diaz is on the 40 either.

      • Correction, the article actually says “non-40 man guys”

        • I suppose its news if it means that Hutch is getting called up before September. He’s not on the 40-man.

          Cooper, Valbuena, Francisco and McCoy are fringey types who are on the 40-man. If Vizquel makes the team, he need would need to be inserted into the 40-man.

          One can foresee a trade or a release before the season opens to make room for Vizquel (Valbuena has no options – probably would be the best choice here).

          And why do we need Francisco if Davis is healthy?

          • I’m not so sure I’d rank those same guys as the fringe ones for the 38th-40th spots on the 40 man. I’d look at some of the minor league relief pitchers: Chad Beck, Danny Farquhar, and Trystan Magnuson. They’ve been swapped around for cash/PTBNL so I suspect they could be dropped pretty easily.

            Cooper is insurance if Lind just can’t hack it (if?) and until McDade establishes himself as a reasonable callup.

            McCoy likely plays the role of 26th man on the active roster getting called up/sent down to not disrupt any actual prospects.

            Francisco seems like he has some kind of role- as redundant as he appears. I suspect if he goes from the 25 man roster he’s gone from the 40 as well.

            Valbuena is pretty redundant at this point too. They’d be able to replace him with Diaz as an upgrade. Would not be surprised to see him gone.

        • That makes more sense. When I read him AA’s quote “he’s on the 40″ I rubbed my eyes and thought ‘when did I miss that’.

          So back to my original suspicions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jenkins as the first non-40 man added to do a few spot starts. In the event that the call-up would probably go back down anyways (ie. injury to anything but throwing arm for a starter).

          Then again, with the excessive promotion of Hech and Hutch lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if AA just traded them for Lincecum.

    • FUCK!

      My bad. He’s NOT on the 40-man. Of all the words to typo out of existence… fuck me.

      It’s fixed.

  14. Not sure what the McGuire & Jenkins part of AA’s quote means, but I believe he was referencing the fact that because Hutchison isn’t on the 40 man roster there’s no risk in keeping him in spring training for as long as they want. If he was on the 40 you’d be risking a year of service time if he got injured, like what just happened in ATL with Vizcaino.

    • Very astute. I believe this is exactly what that meant.

    • Good point. I think it was also in reference to the fact that McGuire and Jenkins need to build up innings, and there just aren’t enough innings to go around in MLB camp to keep those guys around anymore. The same thing would go for Hutch, but if he’s only throwing 2-3 innings per outing, then there’s no harm in keeping him around (i.e. he’s not taking innings away from any MLB pitchers who need them).

  15. When you put that comment together with the uncertainty in the rotation (Cecil and McGowan), Alex’s previous expressions of pleasure regarding Hutchison’s progression and his more recent statement that guys like Laffey, Drabek and Hutchison are still in spring training for a reason, I think it leads to the possibility that Drew is still being considered for the #5 spot in the rotation, possibly even to start the season. And especially if McGowan’s plantar fasciitis is a 6-8 week thing and Kyle Drabek’s next start goes a lot worse than Hutchison’s later in the week, that could become a reality.

    I think it’s a long shot, but given AA’s flair for the dramatic, I wouldn’t count it out yet.

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