The Bisons lost again on Saturday continuing what has become an extended rough patch for the team. Lehigh Valley took the opening game of the series 2-1 as the Buffalo bats stayed cold. Liam Hendriks did his best to keep the herd in the game allowing just run over seven strong innings, but anything short of perfection would not have cut it.
"The offensive woes continue," said manager Gary Allenson but, "were just a hit away".
It took the team into the sixth inning to pick up their first hit, but the scoring opportunities were still there. Four early walks and a hit batter by Lehigh starter Brad Lincoln put several runners in scoring position, but no one came through with the big hit. Darin Mastroianni left the bases loaded in the second and Lehigh reliever Cesar Jimenez stomped out a ninth inning rally that had the tying run on second with one out. The lone run for the Bisons came on a solo shot by catcher Mike Nickeas in the seventh.
The important thing to take away from this game was how well Hendriks pitched. He worked quickly attacking batters and avoiding walks. On top of that general manger Alex Anthopoulos was on hand to see the performance.
"It was definitely good to lay eyes on him," said Anthopoulos and in regards to a possible call up to fill the empty rotation spot he said that "Liam definitely put himself into the mix".
Allenson agreed with that assessment, adding, "he has been outstanding here. He’s money. It’s not necessarily about the radar gun and how hard someone throws, it’s about how they pitch and get people out, and he does a pretty good job of it. He pitches good with guys on base, and limits the damage. He deserves the look".
Understandably Hendriks was in good spirits after the game, and interestingly enough he gave a conversation with his wife credit for his success. After the struggles he suffered last year his wife sat him down and told him to just be himself, and now with a fresh perspective he is pitching lights out.
"I have just come out here and taken a new mindset to everything, and have just been throwing everything for strikes and getting hitters off balance," he explained.
The other important issue addressed by Anthopoulos was the bullpen for the Blue Jays.
"The pen hit some bumps but they are much better than that as a group. Getting a guy like Janssen back is huge. Having McGowan now slide into the pen strengthens it that much more. It can only get better as long as we stay healthy. We are going to look to add whenever we get the chance," he said.
An optimistic view to be sure, but one guy that he does not see contributing to that effort is Marcus Stroman.
"I don’t think there is a scenario where we would keep him [Stroman] in a long role," said Anthopoulos. "The thought when we called him up was that he could give us a boost late in the game," he added but, "now with McGowan back and with Janssen back we have definitely discussed potentially either putting him in the rotation in Toronto, or having him come back here and start and be stretched out and available".
The Jays have been making roster moves left and right and clearly they are not done. These potential moves are all going to come into play likely within the next few days. Playing around with young arms is always a dangerous game because as we have seen with Ricky Romero it can end poorly. With that said if all goes well these are two dynamic young pitchers that could play a huge role for the Jays as they look to push back into the playoffs for the first time since 1993.