TORONTO — You can be forgiven for not noticing when word came across the transaction wire near the end of spring training that the Toronto Blue Jays picked up a nondescript right-handed pitcher named Todd Redmond off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
Just another arm to help out with the Buffalo Bisons, a one-time 39th-round draft pick who had spent the last four years at the triple-A level being not much better than OK and who’d gotten smacked around to the tune of 12 baserunners in 3.1 innings in his one big league opportunity.
But Redmond has done nothing but open eyes ever since he came into a tie game in San Diego in the 14th inning as May turned into June and threw three hitless innings until finally blinking in the 17th. With the Blue Jays needing fresh arms, Redmond was sent back to Buffalo after that outing, but came back in early July to toss three innings of one-hit shutout against the Tigers.
Next time out, the Blue Jays gave him a start against the Twins and Redmond delivered five innings of one-hitter, picking up his first major league win, and he's been pretty much a fixture in the Blue Jays rotation ever since.
Redmond has saved his best for last, coming up with a pair of sensational starts back-to-back as the curtain draws ever lower on the Blue Jays' 2013 season. He followed up a strong 6.1 innings against the Orioles in which he allowed just a run on three hits, striking out seven without a walk, by throwing a career-high seven innings of four-hitter against the Yankees, allowing only one run while striking out seven against one base on balls.
The righty had never recorded an out beyond the sixth inning prior to these last two starts, and though they both came in September, both were against teams right in the thick of a playoff race.
Perhaps the most significant thing about these last two starts for Redmond is the way he handled the opposition the second time through the lineup. That had been a huge issue for basically his entire season, but over the last two starts he's held opponents to just one hit in 17 at-bats (with one hit batsman), striking out seven in his second trip through the order.
Why is that so significant? Because prior to these last two starts, Redmond had been absolutely awful when facing a hitter for the second time in a game. Second time through, opponents were hitting a whopping .356/.432/.644 against him -- which is why Redmond didn't make it through the sixth in eight of his first 10 starts.
That massive drop-off in performance (Redmond had dominated opponents the first time through they'd hit just .129/.198/.306) had Redmond ticketed for nothing more than a shot at a middle-relief job at the big league level in 2013, but he may be changing that story now.
With a start or two remaining in his rookie season, still against playoff contenders, Redmond has the chance to go from "maybe we'll give him a chance to be the long man but he's probably in the rotation in Buffalo" to a legitimate shot at the Blue Jays' 2014 rotation.