05/07/10 7:51 PM ET
Jays keeping starters to strict pitch counts
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
"Sometimes, you let them leave on a good note and that's what he left on," Gaston said. "We'll save those 10 pitches or 20 pitches for the rest of the season."
It was a decision that fell in line with the Blue Jays' overall approach to their starting pitchers this season. Gaston and pitching coach Bruce Walton do not want to exceed 100-105 pitches with any of the starters unless the situation dictates otherwise. Up to this point, the Jays have done well in executing that strategy.
Through 30 games, the rotation has exceeded 105 pitches only four times, and no pitcher has logged more than 111 throws in any one outing. Entering Friday, the Jays' starting staff was averaging 15.5 pitches per inning (fourth best in the Majors behind the Cardinals, Twins and Rays) and 98.1 pitches per game.
Surging Lewis filling in nicely for Jays
CHICAGO -- Blue Jays left fielder Fred Lewis is not taking anything for granted. In fact, Lewis is quick to credit the faith of manager Cito Gaston for giving him the opportunity to settle into the hot streak he is having at the plate.
"I'm just trying to showcase myself and let everybody know what I have to offer," Lewis said. "I'm just putting it all together right now -- just doing a great job at it. I've got to tip my hat off to the manager, because he believes in me and he keeps putting me out there every day."
Lewis was acquired from the Giants in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations on April 15, and the Jays informed the outfielder that he would likely fill a role on the bench. That changed when an injury to third baseman Edwin Encarnacion caused a chain reaction that led to more playing time for Lewis.
"I didn't expect to be playing as much," Lewis said.
After Encarnacion landed on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder on April 21, Toronto's starting right fielder, Jose Bautista, was needed at third base. Travis Snider shifted to right field from left and Lewis suddenly had a window of opportunity. Things did not start off great for the outfielder, though.
Over his first 12 games with the Jays, Lewis struggled to adjust to American League pitching and hit just .200 with a .250 on-base percentage. Since then, Lewis has found a comfort zone, posting a .440 average with a .483 OBP over his past six games. Overall, Lewis has hit .286 with one homer, eight doubles, one triple, eight RBIs and 12 runs scored for Toronto.
"He's come up with some big hits," Gaston said. "He's played well out there. He plays the outfield good, he runs good, throws good, he hangs in there against left-handers. ... He's done a real good job out there. He's a good kid, too. He comes here to win and he plays hard."
Lewis might be getting more accustomed to his surroundings, but the outfielder said he is not allowing himself to get comfortable. He knows that the Blue Jays will need to make a roster move when Encarnacion is ready to return -- there is no established timetable right now -- and performing well is the key to sticking in his current role.
"I really can't get comfortable," Lewis said. "Who knows what's going to happen? Coming here, I didn't know what to expect. They just told me what my role was, and then I just go out there and play my game."
Eveland knows his spot isn't secure
CHICAGO -- The Blue Jays will not say it, but left-hander Dana Eveland might be pitching on a start-to-start basis at some point. With a wave of pitching prospects on the cusp of the big leagues and a handful of injured arms on the mend, Eveland knows much depends on performance.
"You've got to keep throwing the ball well," Eveland said. "There's plenty of guys in this organization that are hurt, or aren't hurt and are at Triple-A, and guys that are coming back soon. So you've got to take that ball every five days and give it all you've got."
Up to this point, Eveland has been impressive, posting a 3-1 record and a 3.82 ERA through six outings for the Blue Jays. That said, it seems unlikely that young starters Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero or Brett Cecil would be at risk for losing their job. The same might be said for Brandon Morrow, though he has been shaky in spots this year.
Eveland and the rest of the rotation know that the Jays may not need to make any decisions soon, though. The starting rotation has performed well as a whole and there is no real urgency to alter the group. Also, injured lefties Brian Tallet (left forearm) and Marc Rzepczynski (left hand), as well as right-handers Dustin McGowan (right shoulder) and Scott Richmond (right shoulder), do not have announced timetables for return.
Right-handers Jesse Litsch and Shawn Hill -- both coming off right elbow injuries -- are on pace to possibly return some time in June or July. On Thursday, Litsch worked in an extended spring game, allowing five runs -- three earned -- on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. Hill logged 2 2/3 innings in an extended spring start on Friday.
Blue Jays left-hander Dana Eveland has won each of his first two road starts without allowing a run in either game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Toronto pitcher to win his first two or more road starts of a season without any runs surrendered was Roger Clemens, who accomplished the feat in his first three road outings in 1997. ... Designated hitter Adam Lind, who has just two hits in his past 26 at-bats, was given the day off against White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle on Friday. Randy Ruiz replaced Lind in the lineup as Toronto's DH. ... The Blue Jays entered Friday's game leading the Majors with 43 home runs and 131 extra-base hits. ... Closer Kevin Gregg has been perfect through his first eight save chances this season. That puts Gregg three saves shy of matching B.J. Ryan's 2006 club record for consecutive saves to begin a career with the Jays.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.