Hutchison making strong case for rotation

Hutchison making strong case for rotation

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays have yet to make an official announcement, but it appears that right-hander Drew Hutchison is all but guaranteed a spot in their starting rotation.

Hutchison entered Spring Training competing for a job against Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and Marcus Stroman. While the others have struggled to varying degrees, Hutchison has excelled.

The 23-year-old has allowed just three runs on seven hits while striking out 16 over 9 2/3 innings. For a pitching staff that walked far too many batters last year, it's been Hutchison's control that has stood out the most.

"He's got great command. I mean, that's the key to pitching," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He throws a lot harder, the ball jumps on you more than I ever thought it did, and he does it easy. It's basically effortless.

"He's great at hitting both sides of the plate with some good offspeed stuff. I compared him earlier in the spring to Shaun Marcum. You know, they're very similar type pitchers. He's got a little better arm than Shaun had, but they're very similar. In a way they look alike, great athletes, got a great feel for pitching."

When Hutchison officially arrived at camp last month he had something to prove. The native of Tampa didn't pitch for the big league club in 2013 because of Tommy John surgery but was expected to be at full strength this spring. So far he hasn't disappointed with his fastball consistently hitting 92-94 miles per hour and occasionally even going slightly above that.

It's possible the radar gun at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is a little higher than normal, but even still, Hutchison's secondary pitches have looked impressive and he hasn't experienced much difficulty at all this spring. Things really couldn't have gone much better to date.

"My approach has been what it always has been, and no, I'm not surprised," Hutchison said of his results. "I prepared myself coming into camp to have a good year. I'll just continue to build off each start and continue to get better."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.