By Mike Harrington
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Drew Hutchison has not thrown in the big leagues since being pulled from a start on June 15, 2012 against Philadelphia with elbow soreness and then undergoing Tommy John surgery last August. But he's getting much closer, as the parent club announced today that the right-hander will start for the Buffalo Bisons Friday night in Coca-Cola Field against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Bisons and RailRiders are opening their series with a doubleheader tonight at 5:30. Thad Weber and Bobby Korecky are the Buffalo starters, with Korecky coming out of the bullpen for a spot start.
Hutchison began a rehab assignment on July 14 at Class A Dunedin, making three appearances there and two at Double-A New Hampshire. In 16 1/3 innings of work, he is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA and has allowed just eight hits.
He has also struck out 22 batters, including seven in 4 1/3 in his last outing for New Hampshire on Sunday against Richmond. He threw 75 pitches in that start.
Hutchison, a 15th-round draft pick in 2009, ascended through the Blue Jays chain and hit the big leagues last year by going 5-3, 4.60 in 11 starts. Hutchison, Kyle Drabek and Luis Perez were all felled by Tommy John surgery last year, with Drabek making his debut in New Hampshire on rehab last week and likely expected in Buffalo before this season ends.
The Bisons (59-57) open play tonight 1 1/2 games out of the wild-card, with Pawtucket (61-56) and Norfolk (62-57) in a virtual tie for the slot. Buffalo is five games behind Rochester in the IL North.
Weber has gone in the seventh inning in six of his last eight starts but has the lowest run support (3.0 runs per game) of any current starter on the roster, hence just a 5-4 record despite an excellent 2.64 ERA. Here's the lineup in front of him tonight:
Mike McCoy, 2b
Anthony Gose, cf
Kevin Pillar, lf
Clint Robinson, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Goins, ss
Moises Sierra, rf
Jim Negrych, dh
Sean Ochinko, c