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What Drew Hutchison Adds to the New Look Jays
The Open Spots in the Jays Rotation
The story in Blue Jays camp this spring, has been the performance by 23 year old starting pitcher, Drew Hutchison. Coming into camp, the Jays had a 4 way battle for the last two spots in their rotation, and veteran JA Happ was the favorite to take one of those spots. Right now, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Todd Redmond and JA Happ are competing for those last two spots, but Hutchison has separated himself with his stellar performance so far. Hutchison has pitched in the big leagues before, as he was a rookie in 2012, but he missed all of the 2013 season with Tommy Surgery. As of right now, it appears that Hutchison has made a complete recovery, and is ready to be a strong contributor for the Jays in 2014.
Hutchinson as a rookie
As a rookie in 2012, Hutchison made 11 starts for Toronto, in which he went 5-3 with a 4.60 earned runs average. Despite the ERA above four, Baseball Reference shows that he posted solid peripheral numbers in his age 21 season, in the big leagues. He posted an impressive 3.1 walks per nine innings pitched, to go along with a solid 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He also had 0.86 balls put in play on the ground for every fly ball hit against him. He allowed just 1.2 homeruns per nine innings pitched, and also had a walks plus innings pitched of 1.35. Overall, these numbers were impressive for a 21 year old rookie pitching in the big leagues for the first time.
The Stuff he throws
Hutchison throws a very good four seam fastball, that ranges from 91 to 95 miles per hour and has some natural cutting action on it. Hutchison also throws a 2 seam fastball that he uses as a sinker, in order to get ground ball outs. This pitch typically sits in the low 90s, but the movement on both his fastballs, make them very effective pitches. His ability to sink and cut the ball to both sides of the plate, makes him an effective pitcher against both right handed and left handed batters.
Hutchison complements his fastball with a good changeup and slider. His changeup is a plus pitch, and it appears similar to his slider at times, but the action is to the opposite side of the plate. The fading action on his changeup can make it a devastating pitch to lefties, as it moves away from them and the bottom drops out of it. His slider moves opposite his arm side, and has a strong downward finish, with more movement than the cutting action on his four seam fastball. He gets a lot of groundballs, along with swings and misses on his slider, which makes it another effective pitch for him.
Since Drew Hutchison is a player that is competing for a roster spot, his spring training results become much more meaningful than the results for some of the other players in camp for the Jays. Before spring games started, Hutchison was monitored closely in his bullpen sessions, because he was coming off of Tommy John surgery. Hutchison looked good in his throwing sessions leading up to the games he was going to appear in. So far in the grapefruit league schedule, Hutchison has made two starts and logged five innings of work. He has allowed only 2 runs on 3 hits with one walk over those two outings, but the most impressive number he has posted, is the nine strikeouts in those five innings of work. Being able to produce strikeouts at a high rate, would make Drew Hutchison an excellent candidate to have a breakout season in the Jays rotation this year. While the numbers have yet to translate over into the regular season this year, Hutchison has always been regarded as a very good talent, and the results so far are encouraging for Jays fans.
Ultimately as a bigger pitcher with a good fastball, Drew Hutchison has a chance to add a lot to the Jays rotation in 2014. He is now fully healthy and ready to go to start the 2014 season, in which he will look to pick up right where he left off in 2012. Hutchison is now 23 years old, and this works to his advantage, since he is moving towards his prime years with big league experience already. While Hutchison is not expected to lead the Jays pitching staff, he is a very strong role player, who could establish himself as a fixture in the rotation of a contending Jays team in the future.