At the beginning of this season, Chad Jenkins was supposed to be a reserve for the Toronto Blue Jays‘ starting rotation. He was supposed to be in the conversation for the fifth spot of the rotation in April. However, that was before Jenkins started getting demolished in AA New Hampshire this season.
Chad Jenkins has not had a good season. That much is obvious. Jenkins has never relied on great stuff for his success, but rather, he has relied on his ability to keep his sinker low in the zone and induce ground ball outs. Jenkins kept 51% of balls in play last season on the ground, an above-average rate. This year, Jenkins has kept just 45% of balls in play on the ground. While that is still an average rate, Jenkins has allowed those lost ground balls to become line drives, which are, of course, a pitcher’s worst enemy. Jenkins’ ground ball rate has declined by nearly 6% and his line drive rate has increased by nearly 5%. The line drives have become hard hit base hits. He’s given up almost 3 more hits per 9 innings this season. These declines in peripheral statistics have manifested in a 4.96 ERA.
A 4.96 ERA usually does not grant one a call-up to the big leagues, especially when it comes in AA. However, the Blue Jays have recently designated Jesse Chavez for assignment and demoted the struggling Brett Cecil. These moves have opened up a spot for Jenkins in the big league bullpen.
Although he has been marginally better of late – in his last three starts Jenkins has thrown 20.1 innings, giving up 5 earned runs on 17 hits with 5 walks and 14 strikeouts – Jenkins has not clearly turned a corner. Jenkins’ season has been marred by inconsistency, and we have seen three or four start runs of solid performance before. In addition, Jenkins has continued to give up home runs, surrendering four over this recent stretch.
Chad Jenkins was a former first-round pick of J.P. Ricciardi, and though he holds little value as a prospect anymore, he still could become a valuable innings eater in the big leagues if he can regain the tools that gave him success in the past. In the coming days, I will be watching tape on Jenkins in order to compile a scouting report. In this, I hope to give all readers an idea of what to expect from Jenkins when he makes his major league debut.
Charles Davis is a baseball writer for RantSports.com with a specific focus on the Toronto Blue Jays, their farm system, and prospects league-wide. Read his articles here and follow him on Twitter @CPDavis90.