The Toronto Blue Jays have a hole in their rotation now that Dustin McGowan is back in their bullpen. It comes up again next Saturday against Oakland, and Bisons right-hander Liam Hendriks could be their man.
With Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos watching closely in Section 100 of Coca-Cola Field, Hendriks put together seven more strong innings in Buffalo’s 2-1 loss to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Hendriks allowed one run on four hits, struck out three and walked one. He’s 5-0 with an International League-leading 1.48 in nine games (seven starts). In 48∏ innings, he’s struck out 36 while allowing only 36 hits and just three walks.
“He’s why I came,” Anthopoulos said of Hendriks, a 25-year-old Australian. “You want to see the 1.50 ERA for yourself. He was good. Throws strikes, changes speeds and I think people tend to forget he’s still young.”
Hendriks did not know Anthopoulos was in the ballpark until informed by the media but said that would not have changed his mind-set about the start. He threw 69 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
“I’ve been throwing well and just trying to ride that as long as I can,” Hendriks said. “I’m just working hard between starts and trying to get ready for the next one.”
Hendriks is on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster and he’s fully stretched out as a starter. Anthopoulos admitted that’s a negative for current relievers Marcus Stroman and Todd Redmond to get the spot.
“Liam puts himself in there with the performance and the other thing is you know you don’t have to have a 60- or 80-pitch first appearance,” Anthopoulos said.
Hendriks is just 2-13 with a 6.10 ERA in 30 big-league outings with Minnesota the last three years. How might this time be different?
“I’ve taken a new mind-set to everything,” he said. “I’ve been throwing everything for strikes, getting hitters off balance. We’ll see what happens.”
“He’s money,” said manager Gary Allenson. “It’s not necessarily about the radar gun and how hard somebody throws. It’s how they pitch and get people out. He does a pretty good job of it. … He deserves a look.”
The Bisons lost the game on Jim Murphy’s solo home run in the ninth off Bobby Korecky, who had not given up a run in his first 26∑ innings.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later but that’s a helluva streak right there,” Allenson said.The Bisons were no-hit by two IronPigs pitchers until Brad Glenn’s one-out single in the sixth. Mike Nickeas’ solo homer in the seventh was their only run.
The loss sent the Bisons to their second four-game losing streak of the season. … The announced crowd of 7,787 on Armed Forces Tribute Day was the largest since Opening Day. … The Blue Jays optioned reliever Neil Wagner back to Buffalo ... The series against Lehigh Valley continues today at 1 (Radio 1520) as Shawn Hill (0-1, 7.50) throws for the Bisons against David Buchanan (5-0, 3.18).