Hutchison gives Blue Jays' rotation flexibility

Right-hander allowed two runs while striking out five in finale vs. A's

Hutchison gives Blue Jays' rotation flexibility

TORONTO -- While it was only one start, Drew Hutchison showed the Blue Jays he's more than capable of pitching big innings when necessary.

Hutchison showed flashes of dominance for the Blue Jays on Sunday, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up a pair of runs while striking out five in Toronto's 6-3 victory over Oakland. The 25-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to make a spot start and give Toronto's starters an extra day of rest, and he received tons of praise for his effort.

"The kid just wins, that's all I know. He always has," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hutchison, who went 13-5 with a 5.57 ERA as Toronto's Opening Day starter in 2015.

"He really helped us out today. We were backing everybody off, letting everyone catch their breath a little bit and he came out and won a big game for us."

The Blue Jays' rotation features youngsters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, who will likely set career highs in innings pitched this season, veteran left-hander J.A. Happ, who threw a career-high 172 innings last season, 41-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and 32-year-old Marco Estrada, who started the season on the 15-day DL with a back injury.

Having Hutchison allows the Blue Jays to monitor the innings and health of their starting rotation, in anticipation of another run toward the postseason. While Gibbons has expressed a six-man rotation is not something the team will use, he conveyed that Hutchison provides the luxury of having a Major League-caliber starter waiting in the wings if necessary.

"He executes when he needs to, he always does," Gibbons said. "And he brings out our offense. We always score when he's on the mound, so he's our good luck charm."

Hutchison understands that while he's not in the ideal situation for a young starting pitcher, he needs to stay ready to take the ball for the big club at any moment.

"You need to take advantage of every opportunity you're given," Hutchison said. "But at the same time, you can't put too much on one start, because that's not the way you go about things. I just tried to go out there and do what I have been doing, and the guys did great. It's great to get a win."

Hutchison noted that he will remain in Toronto on Monday, but is expected to return to Buffalo during Toronto's upcoming series against the White Sox.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.