An impressive 2.1-innings start and three strikeouts for the 25-year-old on Sunday afternoon in the 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays, in which closer Ken Giles, left with an injury, came almost exactly a year to the day he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs for veteran reliever David Phelps. He was followed by southpaw Anthony Kay, one of two pitchers acquired from the New York Mets for Marcus Stroman last summer, who added 2.2 frames of a one-run job, with two K.
Along with Teoscar Hernandez (acquired in 2017), Giles, Brandon Drury, Jacob Waguespack and Santiago Espinal (all in 18), Trent Thornton (18-19 off season) and Derek Fisher, the Blue Jays had nine players on the roster. acquired through recent transactions present for the future.
Another, outfielder Billy McKinney, was picked before the game to make room for Drury, who he was acquired with two years ago from the New York Yankees for JA Happ. While the high-end impact of these deals may have to wait for the arrival of 19-year-old right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson, their presence has helped transform the depth of the roster significantly.
In arms like Hatch and Kay there are also a lot of advantages.
Hatch arrived from the Cubs as a double-A right-hander who appeared to have plateaued in level, but under encouragement from Vince Horsman, the former New Hampshire pitching coach who was not renewed at the end of the season. , began to throw his change more often.
In combination with a high spin speed fastball that stood at 94.8 mph against the Rays, this gave him two pitches coming out of the same tunnel in opposite directions. Of his seven Sunday puffs, three have gone on the radiator, three are on the shift and one has come on a slider that gives him an offering with a horizontal movement.
“I’ve always had change,” Hatch said. “In high school it was my second best pitch, it was a fastpitch change as opposed to a fastpitch slider. I get to college, and we mostly went to the fastball slider, so it was put on the back burner. When I got to pro ball you obviously need more pitches so that started to be a focal point the first year and then I moved away from it.
“When I got to the Blue Jays it started to become a focal point and they said throw it as much as you can, don’t even use it as complementary ground. It was huge, because I can throw any account, and that also plays my fastball. So there are a lot of things that have helped. ”
Hatch looked unfazed by the timing of the jump, getting Ji-Man Choi on a third-place popper, knocking out Brandon Lowe on a nice change, and after a pair of walks, inducing a routine Kevin Kiermaier grounder. He struck out his next four hitters, leaving after catching Mike Zunino watching a 94.6 mph fastball to open the third.
“The best thing I can take away is that it all translates to this level,” Hatch said. “Sometimes there is that doubt between the minor and the major leagues, but I was confident. Even getting my feet wet this spring and taking on some big league hitters was a big step, I realized I could get these guys out. Coming in today, obviously there were nerves that first time around, but being able to know that I did it in the spring, and even in that shortened spring that we just had… really helps you get started.
Kay, meanwhile, made his debut last September and is a bulldog on the mound who also features a change to complement his fastball, with a curveball to complete his mix. The radiator is its primary weapon, its seven puffs emanating from a four-seam oven that rested at 92.7 mph and peaked at 94.6 mph.
He sailed all the way to sixth when Choi – who experimented with the swing change during summer camp and showed enough promise to take it out for the first time – landed his second strike as a right-hander, after hitting against Kay in the first.
A brace Lowe ended his afternoon and manager Charlie Montoyo turned to his leverage from there, with Canadian Jordan Romano crushing the Rays in sixth. Rafael Dolis danced through the disaster again, dropping a run but avoiding a big hit, while Anthony Bass looked impressive for a second straight outing in the eighth, but things imploded on Giles before he left with an injury to the ninth.
Giles recorded the first two outs before losing the zone, becoming increasingly uncomfortable in his mechanics as he walked a pair and ran the count to 3-1 on Choi before leaving the game with a pain in the right elbow.
The Blue Jays plan to send him in for further testing.
Brian Moran came over and finished the walk, then provoked a ground balloon from Lowe which Vladimir Guerrero Jr. pointlessly dove in rather than leave it to Cavan Biggio and run for the sack. This left Moran sprinting while Biggio’s throw was a step late.
This resulted in extra innings, a first for the Blue Jays under new rules where innings begin with a runner on second base. With just one out, Santiago Espinal, who runs for Danny Jansen, was called up in an attempt to steal the third, but reruns showed that with a superb slide he managed to get his hand safely. After the game was called, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed with a fly sacrificed to break the tie.
But Shun Yamaguchi, who was making his big league debut, threw nine shots at Michael Martinez before Kevin Kiermaier had a two-point brace that won it.
What the roles for Hatch and Kay are in the short term, let alone the long term, is unclear.
Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering all the latest news with opinions and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.
Ryan Borucki is expected to join the squad on Monday to add some extra length in the reliever box ahead of Thornton’s start against the Washington Nationals, while top prospect Nate Pearson will be through mid-serve time issues. weekdays and could debut on Friday, when fifth place in the rotation comes next.
Either way, the way Hatch pinned Rays hitting bolsters the club’s excitement for him. Montoyo said pitching coach Pete Walker adored the rookie, who impressed throughout summer camp.
“(Hatch) has some good stuff – 94-95. But he’s like that, “Montoyo said, using his hand to draw a flat line,” from what I’ve seen so far. If you want to be a good pitcher in the big leagues, you have to be like that, an equal guy.
Kay has that too, and every outing right now is crucial with the Blue Jays playing games that matter while building their pitchers. In some cases, they also try to develop them further, which is why Sunday outings have added significance.
“I wanted to prove to the Blue Jays that they made a good decision, that I belong to the big leagues and that I have everything a pitcher needs to compete at this level,” Thornton recalls of his early days. a year ago after returning from the Houston Astros for veteran shortstop Aledmys Diaz. “But I still try to do this every day. It is important to go out with a chip on your shoulder. You are never given anything in the big leagues, you have to continue to prove yourself and be consistent. It’s the same mindset that I think any pitcher should embrace.
The Blue Jays scored four runs in the sixth, posting six straight hits to open the set, capped by a two-run single from Bo Bichette.
More noticeable, however, is the way the Blue Jays hitters put their all-or-nothing swings into the frame to work with what the Rays pitchers were giving them. Randal Grichuk, who left the game in the lower half with irritation in the right SI joint (where the spine meets the hip), started things off with a baseline shot before Hernandez tore a brace that was badly played in the center left by Manuel Margot, allowing a race to come. Danny Jansen then cleverly threw a right kick against the lag to carry it 2-0, while Bichette’s goal, on a 0-2 count, followed the singles of Drury and Gurriel Jr.
Part of that may be the influence of Dante Bichette, officially hired as a major league coach recently, who, according to Charlie Montoyo, “has made a big difference to our team.
“The two-shot approach is improving a lot,” said Montoyo. “A lot of guys choke on two hits, it’s already a big difference. You can see with Grichuk, when he got that shot on the pitch (Saturday). I told him, that’s a big difference. You put the ball into play, you never know what might happen.
Dante Bichette was first recruited as a guest instructor in spring training, but Montoyo said: “The more I loved him and said he would be a great addition for this team and it was.
Although his work relies primarily on an offensive approach, he is viewed as an asset on many levels.
“His experience for me is great,” Montoyo said. “When you bring someone in with that experience, you have to be careful with that with the hitting coach (Guillermo Martinez). But he has that experience, they get along well and he does a good job. The approach of our players has already changed a lot. “
The Blue Jays won’t have Sahlen Field in Buffalo ready in time to host Friday’s season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, with those games moving to Citizens Bank Park. Their first action at their temporary home will be on August 11, when the Miami Marlins arrive to open a five-game homestand.
Meanwhile, players who haven’t broken camp in the majors will begin training in Rochester, New York, which will begin serving as the club’s alternative training site on Monday. These players have moved from Toronto to Buffalo, and will now settle in Rochester, allowing work at Sahlen Field to resume.