Gibbons: Blue Jays can get creative with starters

Basebal Central at Noon gives Blue Jays manager John Gibbons a chance to gloat about putting Troy Tulowitzki at the leadoff spot in the lineup.

The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t planning to send starter Drew Hutchison to the minors, but manager John Gibbons says the team can get creative with its starting rotation.

“We’re getting too far ahead there talking about Drew going down,” Gibbons told Baseball Central hosts Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “We can do anything we want with these off days. We have a number of them coming up and we can tinker with some things.”

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The Blue Jays have four off days in the upcoming weeks: August 10, 17, 20 and 24. Those days provide the Blue Jays with flexibility in terms of Hutchinson’s usage. The team can either skip one of his starts entirely, provide the right-hander with additional rest, or line up one of his starts to create a more favourable match-up.

“Certain guys in our rotation we want pitching on their normal rest when possible,” said Gibbons. “There’s a couple times where we’ll look at a particular opponent, so the off day will give us a lot of flexibility. Where we’re sitting right now, these games are very important so we’ll try and match them up in the best way we can. We’re afforded the luxury with how the schedule lines up, so we can do some tinkering if we need to.”

Hutchison has struggled throughout the course of the 2015 season, despite ranking second among Blue Jays starters with 10 wins. He has a 5.42 ERA this year with 142 hits and 37 walks in 118 innings.

He gave up seven hits, three earned runs and one home run during five innings of work in a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.

“The last couple of years he’s been really good at times and then he’s had his struggles,” Gibbons said of Hutchison. “It’s obvious he’s been inconsistent. A lot of times, that goes with being a young guy, but I think it’s coming down to what he’s doing … If (they’re) missing location, it’s a tough night. In saying that, there’s times where he tries to pitch too much like a power pitcher. He needs a little more finesse. It would definitely help him. Back off a bit maybe and try and locate the ball.”

Still, the Blue Jays say Hutchison’s capable of more.

“He’s in the public’s eye right now but he’s winning games,” Gibbons said. “We have a heck of record when we starts. It definitely hasn’t been easy but he finds a way to win them.”

The Blue Jays enter Thursday night’s action sitting in the second Wild Card position with a 57-52 record.

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