TORONTO – Drew Hutchison isn’t reading into the significant splits between his outings on normal rest and those when he’s had some extra time, and he’s at a loss to explain the stark difference between his numbers at home and on the road.
All the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander knows is that his execution on the mound has been great one start, not nearly as good the next, and cleaning that up is his primary area of focus.
“It is frustrating to be inconsistent,” he said Monday before the Blue Jays opened a series with the Minnesota Twins. “That bothers me because every time I need to take the ball I need to be reliable to go deep into the game and give us at least six innings.
“So to be as, inconsistent is a very fair way to put it, it’s frustrating.”
That being said, the numbers tell a curious tale.
In six starts on the normal four days of rest, he's 3-3 with a 5.93 earned-run average, while in seven starts with five or more days of rest, he's 1-1 with a 2.64 ERA. The disparity has raised questions as to whether his return from Tommy John surgery in 2012 is a factor, something he insists is no issue at all.
"You know, I'm not trying to go out there and be a tough guy and say I'm not feeling this or I'm not feeling that," said Hutchison. "Physically, I've felt the exact same every time I've taken the ball, which is why it is as frustrating as it is."
The primary culprits on his bad days are poor execution and tempo, leading to a wide variety of results, he believes.
Four times in 13 starts he's allowed five or more runs, four times he hasn't allowed a run, four times he's lasted more than seven innings and three times he's pitched less than five innings, including a career-low three innings in Sunday's 5-0 loss to St. Louis (not counting that start in 2012 he left after nine pitches with the elbow injury).
"I'm not going to make excuses as to anything else," he said. I just haven't pitched the way I'm capable of pitching every time out. It's been inconsistent and something I need to be better at is to be consistent every time I take the mound."
That includes his home/road splits, which are similarly confounding.
In five starts at Rogers Centre, he's 1-3 with an 8.72 ERA and 1.041 OPS against, while in eight outings on the road, he's 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA and .574 OPS against. Oddly, that's a full reverse of his 2012 divide, when he was 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in five home starts, and 2-3 with a 6.47 ERA in six road starts.
"That's one of the things you just look at and you're kind of like, 'Wow,' yourself," he said. "I think things just work out that way sometimes."
By no means is Hutchison content with that as an answer. Though his overall numbers are pretty solid – 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, a 1.227 WHIP and eight strikeouts per nine innings pitched – he's routinely watching video, trying to identify things he can improve.
"It's just little things, (like) getting on top of the baseball," said Hutchison. "The pitches I made (Sunday) I was underneath the ball, the ones that I left up, the changeup and the slider, just were underneath the ball a little bit instead of being on top. You've got to be on top of the baseball. It was just bad execution and bad situations. I did a bad job of managing the game (Sunday) when I had one run in and two outs. I just had chances to put it away and I didn't. That's just bad execution. That's all it is."
RASMUS REHAB: Blue Jays centre-fielder Colby Rasmus is expected to start a rehab assignment sometime this week with triple-A Buffalo, manager John Gibbons said Monday.
The Bisons open a series in Toledo on Thursday and that could be the target date.
"That's the latest plan," said Gibbons.
Rasmus has been on the disabled list since May 13 with a right hamstring injury.
COOLED OFF: The Blue Jays were shut down in back-to-back games for the first time this season over the weekend, an especially surprising turn of events given how hot they'd been at the plate.
But led by Shelby Miller on Saturday and Jamie Garcia on Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals kept them under wraps.
"It comes down to good pitching – they stuck it to us pretty good," said manager John Gibbons. "They were good, that's what pitching does for you. … You don't figure you're going to get shutout twice, but they were pretty good."
Did he see anything other teams might copy?
"I don't really think anybody has changed how they approach us," said Gibbons. "I thought I saw Kansas City try to jam some balls in, tie us up a bit more, but other than that, it all depends who you've got on the mound, what their strengths and weaknesses are."