04/23/2013 7:20 PM ET
Toronto's relievers racking up innings early
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays' bullpen has been pressed into action a lot more than the club would have liked through the first 20 games of the season.
Toronto's relief corps entered play on Tuesday night leading the American League with 72 1/3 innings. The bullpen also ranks sixth in strikeouts (60) and seventh in ERA (3.24).
The bullpen was expected by many critics to be a weakness on the club, but so far, it has turned into a strength despite being at least somewhat overworked.
"Right now, we're managing to keep them all fresh," manager John Gibbons said. "We haven't pushed anybody too many times, but you're always concerned about that.
"I like our bullpen, too. So if there's an opportunity to use them, we're not afraid to do that. But, yeah, they're all getting plenty of work, that's for sure."
The main reason for the extended innings was that the starting rotation got off to a slow start this year. That has begun to change, but the Blue Jays have received seven innings in a game only twice.
Left-hander Mark Buehrle tossed seven innings on April 20 vs. the White Sox; right-hander Josh Johnson followed the next day with seven strong innings against the Yankees.
That has resulted in several Blue Jays relievers ranking among the league leaders in innings pitched entering Tuesday's game against the Orioles. The most prominent include right-hander Steve Delabar being ranked third in the AL (12 2/3 innings) while Esmil Rogers is tied for ninth (10 2/3 innings).
One thing Gibbons is trying to keep an eye on is how many times his relievers are being asked to throw more than one inning. Delabar has gone multiple innings on five occasions this year and Rogers on four.
"It depends on how that one inning goes," Gibbons said. "That first inning will kind of dictate that.
"We have enough guys out there that are really good. When game's on the line, they can get some big outs for you. They know how to pitch in those situations, they've done it before. The good thing is we have so many different guys we can go to at different times. Otherwise, it could get really tough."
Lind slots second in Blue Jays' shuffled order
BALTIMORE -- In an effort to generate more offense, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons opted to move Adam Lind into the No. 2 spot of his batting order for Tuesday night's game against the Orioles.
The move comes just one day after Lind saw his streak of consecutive times reaching base end at nine. During a span of three games, he walked six times and recorded three singles, resulting in Lind entering play vs. Baltimore with a .380 on-base percentage.
As a result of the lineup change, Melky Cabrera was dropped to No. 5 in the batting order as the two players essentially switched spots.
"I just haven't been too stubborn this year, and I've made adjustments with what pitchers have done," Lind said of his approach. "Hopefully I get more fastballs. That's the goal to get myself in hitter's counts, but the way people throw is usually when they're ahead in the count -- that's when you get all of the offspeed pitches."
During Lind's eight-year career, he has been used in all nine spots of the batting order. The native of Indiana previously started 20 games in the two spot while posting a .232 average with a .315 on-base percentage.
The overall numbers, though, are of little consequence as Gibbons admitted the decision wasn't based on anything scientific. Instead, it's a move designed to provide a spark for a lineup that has struggled with consistent production.
The Blue Jays have recorded five hits or fewer in five of their 20 games so far. They've also outhit their opponents just four times while scoring three runs or fewer on 12 occasions.
Lind's ascension in the batting order won't solve all of those problems, but it's a different look that Gibbons hopes will lead to a reversal of fortune.
"I'm just looking for one pitch, really," Lind said. "Staying back, because we're going to see a lot of offspeed pitches with this lineup. Realizing that they might throw you fastballs, but that's not how they're going to try and get you out."