In the wake of an ugly outing by Drew Hutchison and a porous performance by the bullpen, the Toronto Blue Jays are seeking some pitching help from their top minor league prospect.
The struggling American League club have called up Aaron Sanchez, 22, from Triple-A Buffalo.
Sanchez arrived in Toronto, along with pitcher Esmil rogers and shortstop Ryan Goins, who were also called up from Buffalo. Outfielder Darin Mastroianni and catcher Erik Kratz were optioned back to Buffalo while pitcher Brad Mills was designated for assignment.
Sanchez told reporters before the game that it was a bit surreal being on the cusp of his first Major League game at just 22.
“It’s what I dreamed for my whole life," he said. "I don’t think the age for me matters. It’s just a lot of hard work and dedication to this game and always wanting to learn, staying hungry. I think that’s what it took.”
Toronto manager John Gibbons hinted that Sanchez could be on his way up to reporters before his team went out and were shellacked 14-1 by the Red Sox Monday night in the first of a four-game series.
“It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for us to give him a look up here in the bullpen,” Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters on Sunday. “We haven't made that decision. Clearly with the decision we've made to move him to the pen down there, we'd like to give him some appearances so it's not completely foreign to him if we decide to call him up."
A right-handed pitcher, Sanchez was 0-3 with Buffalo with a 4.39 earned run average after joining the Triple-A ranks last month. Last week, Sanchez was moved to the bullpen, fuelling speculation it was just a matter of time before he was promoted to the Major League team.
The Blue Jays are hoping Sanchez can provide some spark to a team that could definitely use a lift following Monday’s embarrassing outing in which the pitching staff was knocked around for 18 hits.
It was an especially tough outing for Drew Hutchison, the Toronto starter who failed to get out of the third inning, getting thrashed for six of the runs after surrendering nine hits through 2.2 innings.
The righty, now 6-9 on the season, has dropped five of his last six games.
In the month of July (1-3), Hutchison’s earned run average is an unseemly 6.97. He has surrendered 16 earned runs over 20.2 innings of work.
It has raised questions as to the health of Hutchison, who is returning this season after missing all of the 2013 campaign after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery to his right elbow.
“I feel great,” Toronto’s starting pitcher would claim after Monday’s shellacking. “I felt like I had good stuff. A couple times just didn’t locate some balls and I got hit. As far as that goes I feel perfectly fine, there’s none of that.”
Hutchison was not alone in his misery.
Mills, who came on in relief of Hutchison in the third, was shelled for eight of the runs off seven hits over two innings of work.
All this does no bode well for a Toronto pitching staff heading into what is considered a key portion of the 2014 Major League Baseball schedule where the Blue Jays hope to be able to continue to contend for the playoffs.
Toronto (51-49) remains in a virtual tie for second place in the American League East, four games behind the Baltimore Orioles.
Gibbons was asked after the game if he had noted anything worrisome with Hutchison over the past while that might suggest a physical issue.
“There’s been no red flags for me,” Gibbons replied.
After needing just 10 pitches to get through the first inning, the Red Sox started to tee-off on Hutchison in the second inning, stroking four hits for two runs and a 2-0 lead.
It got even worse in the third where Hutchison surrendered another four runs off five hits, including a three-run home run off the bat of Stephen Drew and the Red Sox were well on their way to an easy victory in the first of a four-game set.
Gibbons said one of the issues for Hutchison is that he consistently failed to get his breaking ball close to the strike zone.
“He had a tough time getting anything going on his breaking ball, spiked a lot of them, yanking a lot of them,” Gibbons said. “They just beat him around pretty good, that’s all, that’s about it.”
After the debacle, Hutchison did his best to put up a brave face and accepted total responsibility for what transpired.
“It was a bad night and I put us in a terrible position and didn’t really give us a chance to win,” he said. “In the process I made it really tough on our bullpen. Just one of those things you try and move past and move forward and come back and be better.”