It all comes back to pitching for Blue Jays
Blue Jays pitcher Chad Jenkins pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. September 23, 2012. (EDWARD LINSMIER/Reuters)
On some level, the fact that the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox have all emerged from sub-.500 records in 2011 to be playoff contenders in 2012 has to be encouraging for the Blue Jays.
As far as manager John Farrell is concerned, it will depend directly on how good a job the Jays do in mending their broken pitching staff.
"It will point directly to our pitching," he said. "You look at all three of those teams and they pitch exceptionally well, whether it's been the young starters who have transitioned successfully in Oakland, whether it's been a lockdown bullpen in Baltimore, and you look at a pretty veteran staff in Chicago, it comes down to pitching.
"We've been extremely inconsistent in that area. When you walk as many people as we have walked and you give up as many home runs, that has to reverse. We've talked about the continuity the rotation can provide for any given team and, once again, we had this year-end conversation in Chicago last year. We need more quality innings from our rotation."
September statistics often can be misleading, as the Jays have discovered with young players in the past. Both Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria have had extensive playing time this September and their mixed results may be more significant.
"You're always going to take September -- I don't want to say with a grain of salt -- but there is a difference pre-September versus September," Farrell said. "But in the case of our schedule this month, almost everybody we've played this month has been a contender so it's not like we're seeing guys out of double-A starting against our hitters. We're seeing their regulars in the rotation. We're seeing playoff intensity thrown at us. So (Gose and Hechavarria) have done a solid job competing."
'LEG UP' FOR JENKINS
Chad Jenkins will get one more start with the Blue Jays next week and he's thankful for the opportunity.
Jenkins did not pitch very well early this year at double-A New Hampshire, but when he was promoted to Toronto he looked at it as a fresh start and performed well out of the bullpen.
On Sunday, in his first major-league start, he gave up just two hits, including a first-inning homer to B.J. Upton. Jenkins pitched five innings.
"The fresh start here was nice," Jenkins said. "My numbers were not so good in double-A. It was nice to kind of start over in a new place. Now I'm just trying to run with it. This is a huge boost in confidence. It'll definitely give me a leg up going into spring training next year."