Jays From The Couch Takes A Look At The Projections For Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Drew Hutchison
During the 2014 season, Blue Jays fans were very optimistic about what starting pitcher Drew Hutchison could potentially become for their team. Some saw him as a middle of the rotation starter, an absolute inning eater, beating batter after batter with his moving fastball. Others saw him as a potential number one starter on a team. With a high powered offence behind him, it’s wouldn’t be too hard to imagine this. Even though Hutchison finished the year with a 4.48ERA, his FIP would be 3.85 and 2.3WAR would suggest that there was more than meets the eye. After the Marcus Stroman ACL tear in the Spring Training, that’s exactly what the Blue Jays organization viewed Hutchison as, the best up and coming pitcher on their staff, and their number one pitcher.
Hutchison’s 2015, would prove to be a very shaky season. Everyone made a big deal of Hutchison’s record of 13-5, winning games with an insane amount of run supports. Others talked about his Home/Away splits, which were the complete opposite from the year before. Home: 92.2IP/2.91ERA – Away: 57.2IP/9.83ERA. These splits became so drastic down the stretch, that the Blue Jays opted to skip Hutchison on the road in some occasions.
The difference? Hutchison’s four seam fastball/slider combo, which were his two best pitches in his 2014 disappeared from him completely. Specifically the movement in these two pitches became erratic, his slider staying up in the zone, and the fastball almost losing movement altogether. This contributed to his .20 increase of HR/9. His third pitch, his changeup, improved slightly over the year before, but wasn’t a pitch that increased in usage. It was hard to even think Hutchison could have this bad of a season, without remembering the year before and how brilliant he looked, including his complete game three hit shutout on the road against the Texas Rangers.
Once David Price was acquired at the trade deadline from the Detroit Tigers, and Stroman made his unbelievable return to the mound in September, there just simply wasn’t enough space for Hutchison. Will the same problem exist for Hutchison coming into this season? Is there enough space for Hutchison in the starting rotation?
At this point we can consider Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ locks for the starting position. With Jesse Chavez, Aaron Sanchez, and to a lesser extent, Roberto Osuna all competing with Hutchison for that elusive fifth spot. Hutch has some tough competition ahead of him. If he doesn’t make the starting rotation where does he go from here? Does he a move into the bullpen as a long reliever? Should he play in Buffalo with the Bisons just to get his starting reps in? A lot will be answered with Spring Training. At only 25 years old there’s lots of time for Hutchison to figure things out.
Considering how inconsistent Hutchison has been from year to year, or where he could be placed next season, it might be difficult to look at Hutchison’s projection with nothing but more questions. Here’s what Hutchison’s ZiPS, Steamer, and Marcel projection numbers look like.
It’s interesting to see what each projection system thinks of Hutchison this upcoming season. The Steamer system, sees Hutchison as that sixth, even seventh starter, potentially working out of the bullpen, or spending a majority of the year in the minors. Both ZiPS, and Marcel, (provided by Baseball Reference), see Hutchison putting up pretty similar numbers as last year, but winning that fifth starter spot. Without much new coming out about Hutchison’s progression, it’s difficult to really just pick and choose which category he gets put into.
Right now it seems like the Blue Jays are leaning towards inserting Aaron Sanchez into that 5th spot, but then again you can make a strong case for almost everyone with their eyes on that final spot. It was noted that Hutchison was making a lot of changes in his delivery last year, at only 25 years old, he’s is far away from his prime years, but could Hutchison be a possible bounce back candidate this year? We will see.
*Featured Image Credit: James G UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Spencer Redmond is a Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His loves in life are the NBA, MLB, Stats, and his dog Parker.