In an unsurprising move, the Toronto Blue Jays DFAed enigmatic reliever Jeremy Jeffress after last night’s game. We had thought that the Blue Jays were calling up Chad Jenkins to take his place but, according to the Blue Jays’ official Twitter account, the Jays are purchasing the contract of Marcus Walden instead.
In other news, I totally saw the Jeffress part of the transaction coming. It’s Question number 5 in this article.
Anyways, I’m speechless to explain why the Jays are calling up Walden. For me, Jenkins was a completely defensible promotion. So would have been Neil Wagner. It’s not that Marcus Walden won’t be fine at the major league level, it’s just that we have no idea how he’ll be.
With Jenkins, we have a major league track record of 65 1/3 innings. With Wagner, we have 43 innings in the majors. Marcus Walden has a grand total of one inning pitched above Double-A and that was in Thursday’s Buffalo Bisons win (he was pretty good). This is the crux of my confusion.
I’ve been on the Chad Jenkins bandwagon since I wrote an article that tried to find the secret to his solid major league success (in a small sample size) back in November. It’s no secret that I think he’s proven himself in the major leagues and could easily continue to do well if given the chance. The only problem is that the Jays wanted to keep everyone without minor league options (at least until they proved that they weren’t helping the team). I didn’t think that Jenkins was the next guy to come up, though. I think Neil Wagner’s dominant outing on Thursday in Buffalo was extraordinarily impressive, hitting up to 97 mph on the radar gun and sitting at 94 in a very cold environment with excellent offspeed pitches.
I would probably still recall Jenkins over Wagner for the main reason that Jenkins has the ability to be a long man in the pen if needed. He could spell Todd Redmond in being the second half of a “Frankenstarter” with Dustin McGowan and provide a third, right-handed arm who could throw multiple innings. Jenkins gets a lot of ground balls, particularly since last year when he added a splitter (or split-change) to his repertoire.
Speaking of ground balls, that’s what Walden does. I’ve seen Walden a couple of times (most recently on Thursday) and he’s a ground ball machine. He has a heavy, sinking fastball which is definitely necessary in a ballpark like Toronto. He’s not going to break the radar gun like Jeffress can and will probably top out at about 91 or 92 mph. He throws a couple of other pitches but will rely heavily on his sinker. With only one inning of work on Thursday and yesterday’s rainout, Walden is probably rested and available for today’s game.
I do like Marcus Walden. He throws strikes, keeps the ball down and has been one of the more underrated arms in the Blue Jays’ system but I’m just wondering why they decided to choose him over a guy like Jenkins who has a similar profile but with major league experience in each of the past two seasons.
UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Steve2 and Jamie Campbell on the Blue Jays’ telecast, we’ve learned that MLB rules indicate that a player can’t be recalled within 10 days of being optioned to the minors. Basically, Jenkins was optioned at the beginning of the minor league season and isn’t available to be called up until April 10 whereas Walden, who wasn’t on the 40-man roster before today, doesn’t have any restrictions. It’s my understanding that the Blue Jays tried to recall Jenkins but weren’t permitted to and purchased the contract of Walden instead.
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