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Despite rough start, pitchers combine for 17 K's

'Genie' can't work magic in comeback as starter, gives up five runs over 3 2/3 innings
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays pitching staff striking out a season-high 17 batters in Joe Biagini's return to the starting rotation sounds like the perfect recipe for optimism and a win, but the big right-hander can only take Sunday's 7-2 loss as another learning experience.

Biagini was tagged with five runs on nine hits over his 3 2/3 innings against the Twins, due in large part to his fastball finding the heart of the plate. He often spun out of his delivery with different follow throughs, which he pinpointed as an area that needs work after the game.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays pitching staff striking out a season-high 17 batters in Joe Biagini's return to the starting rotation sounds like the perfect recipe for optimism and a win, but the big right-hander can only take Sunday's 7-2 loss as another learning experience.

Biagini was tagged with five runs on nine hits over his 3 2/3 innings against the Twins, due in large part to his fastball finding the heart of the plate. He often spun out of his delivery with different follow throughs, which he pinpointed as an area that needs work after the game.

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Despite Biagini's struggles, the Blue Jays bullpen was impressive in relief of the right-hander, who struck out four batters. Aaron Loup, Matt Dermody, Dominic Leone and Tim Mayza combined to strike out a whopping 13 hitters over just 5 1/3 innings of work. Both runs the 'pen gave up were on homers by the red-hot Byron Buxton

"I think that the process for me is trying to marry the stretch and windup," Biagini said. "I think when you go back and forth it's hard to maintain the consistency out of those. I felt like I made some progress in [Triple-A] Buffalo, but I think I have to use the learning experience of today to remember that you don't need to speed anything up.

"You don't need to throw extra in certain situations. You can just kind of stay calm and use what you've been working on to execute."

When Biagini is keeping hitters off balance with his fastball and forcing groundballs, it typically allows for his curveball -- which does show a great deal of potential -- to be even more effective. Manager John Gibbons pointed to Biagini's elevated fastball after the game, after several of the pitches were either barrelled up or sailed high out of the zone.

The Twins certainly weren't missing Biagini's mistakes, either.

"Good hitters being thrown bad pitches on a couple of occasions," was Biagini's simple breakdown of the day. "I felt like early in the game I was doing a decent job of attacking and sometimes you just can't really control where the ball goes exactly."

Biagini will still have every opportunity to develop as a starter through September, and that's understandable. He possesses a starter's arsenal, has enjoyed great success in shorter spurts as a reliever, and the Blue Jays need to gather as much information on Biagini before entering the offseason.

The Blue Jays enter next season with Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez pencilled into their rotation, but the final two spots will be open to some level of competition. Biagini developing into a stable, cost-effective starter on the back end would be a dream scenario given the circumstances, and he's confident that he has the ability to provide that.

"I'm excited about hopefully continuing to try to find the rhythm," Biagini said. "Wherever the baseball takes you in life and your journey and back and forth and different roles and all that stuff, it's about finding that rhythm."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Biagini