Come on down, Chad Jenkins. It’s your turn on the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher’s carousel.
So the rookie – the latest in a string of pitchers called up from AA New Hempshire to help the team’s dire issues with starters not being about to stay healthy, despite not having very good numbers at that level this season – did just that, giving the Blue Jays 5 solid innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, a standout effort in an otherwise unimpressive rookie season. Jenkins allowed just 1 earned run – a first-inning one-out homer give up to BJ Upton, but was otherwise solid, allowing just 2 more baserunners through the rest of his outing (2H, 1BB total) while striking out 4.
The Blue Jays, being more like the-struggling-Blue-Jays-who-can’t-win-a-game these days, lost anyway. The offense couldn’t score a run for Jenkins, leaving 9 men on base, and the Rays put the game away against Brandon Lyon late. The loss is the 6th in a row for Toronto, who has now been swept in their last 2 series, and is 2-10 in their last 12. So yeah, you damn right I’m going to try to key on anything that remotely seems like it’s going right. Last night, that was Jenkins’ 5-inning start.
It was just 66 pitchers, so Jenkins – who was being used as the long-man prior to the outing – will be able to go a little further in his next start. All in all, it was a first positive step for the 24-year old rookie, even if most of us Blue Jays fans have been conditioned to be fairly guarded towards such signs of positivity coming from young pitchers. It’s a “oh, that’s nice to see” moment, more so than one of sustained hope, really; there are too many things that could turn sour. Jenkins repertoire (low-90s-sinker+mid 90s 4-seamer+slider combo with an underdeveloped change), as it stands, does not suggest long-term success at this level, at least not unless that change-up gets a fair bit of work; there’s a reason why the Blue Jays didn’t call him up to start right away.
There’s also the possibility of the injury bug creeping up on Blue Jays pitchers just when they exhibit signs of things turning a corner for the team (think JA Happ) – of course, potential injuries tend to be speculative, but this year’s team might just be a bit of an exception, toeing the line between speculation and being able to blindly accept that it will happen…and leaning towards the latter side.