Last night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays featured a couple of firsts from the Toronto Blue Jays. There was lefty J.A. Happ making his first start for the team since being acquired, and the game also featured the MLB debut of a former top organizational prospect in Chad Jenkins.
While the former ended in mixed results, the latter was an undeniable success, as far as first impressions go. Jenkins threw 3 scoreless innings as the long man last night, allowing no runs and striking out 2 Rays batters, while giving up just 2 hits without walking anybody. The 24-year old, who has drafted in the first round in 2009 and was considered a top-3 prospect in the Blue Jays farm by Baseball America headed into the 2010 season, has been having a rough go in 2012 as a starter for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (his 2nd year at AA), posting a 4.96/1.54 ERA/WHIP over 20 starts. Not unlike fellow Fisher Cats alumni Drew Hutchison and Henderson Alvarez, however, it was Jenkins’ control (2.44 BB/9 in 2012) that likely earned him the call to the Blue Jays – over say, Deck McGuire (3.93 BB/9 in 2012) – when the team needed the next guy to get on the pitching carousel.
Jenkins will continue to work out of the bullpen in his first MLB stint, something that he hasn’t done in his professional career up until this point. At least, the rookie will continue to do so barring another opening coming up in the rotation, the likelihood of which is probably pretty good, given the patchwork nature of the starting 5 this season. Aside from Ricky Romero and Alvarez, it’s probably fair to say that there’s not going to be a very long leash for the rest of the starters, especially giving the team’s willingness to bring up starters with relatively little time in the minors before. Jenkins is just the latest guy looking for a shot, and I would guess that he’ll make at least one start before the season’s over as a result of some circumstance or another. The Blue Jays brought up Jenkins to have his cup of tea, so to speak, and the idea probably isn’t for him to have all of it in the ‘pen.
Be warned, Aaron Laffey (8.27/1.59 ERA/WHIP, 4:3 K:BB over last 3 starts).