Jays' relievers waiting for shot to pitch

Jays' relievers waiting for shot to pitch

TORONTO -- There is a row of bleachers seats just beyond the wall in left-center field at Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays' relievers can sit and watch the game, waiting for their respective turns to pitch.

Lately, the relievers have been enjoying the view. There's been a shortage of work to go around for Toronto's relief corps, which has watched the Jays' rotation churn out a wave of lengthy starts.

On Wednesday, Shaun Marcum will take the mound against the Rays, aiming to add to the pile of impressive performances turned in by Toronto's starters. While the pitching has been superb, it's practically turned a pair of Jays relievers -- Jason Frasor and Brian Tallet -- into invisible men.

"This latest run by the starters is the best I've ever seen," said Frasor, who has been a member of Toronto's bullpen since 2004. "But I know my time will come. It'd be hard to believe that the starters can maintain this dominance for the rest of the year anyway."

On Tuesday night, Tallet made a relief appearance for the first time since April 24 -- a span of 10 games without any work. With that appearance by Tallet, Frasor -- unused since April 24 -- has now gone the longest without appearing in a game. Their lack of use stems from the work of the Jays' durable starters.

Burnett's six-inning appearance on Tuesday was actually the shortest outing by a Jays' starter since April 24. The Blue Jays' rotation has compiled 219 2/3 innings, which represents the highest total in the Majors. Entering Tuesday, only the White Sox had fewer relief innings than the 83 2/3 logged by Toronto's bullpen.

"Everybody's been pitching deep," said Jays ace Roy Halladay, who leads the Majors with 57 innings and four complete games, as of Tuesday. "I'm sure there's some of those guys down there who would like to get a little more work, but that's just how baseball goes.

"Sometimes they're going to get more than they want. It just seems to always work that way. It's nice to be able to do that and have those guys down there fresh."

In light of the performances coming from Toronto's rotation, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has only found consistent work for a few relievers with established late-inning role. The setup duties have been split between Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo and Jesse Carlson, while B.J. Ryan is entrenched in the team's closer role.

That's left few opportunities for Frasor and Tallet, and even Shawn Camp has been used sporadically since being promoted from Triple-A Syracuse on April 19. The starters' long outings are essentially overtaking the innings and situation that would normally be reserved for these relievers.

"You can't pitch guys just to pitch guys," Gibbons said. "The game dictates who's in at what time. The way our starters have been going, you have certain guys for certain jobs.

"We haven't forgotten them down there by any means. There just hasn't been time to pitch."

Frasor, who has a 3.24 ERA in nine appearances this season, has tried to find ways to keep fresh, while awaiting his next turn. The right-hander faced a similar situation last season and he pitched in bullpen sessions every third or fourth day to try to stay sharp. Frasor has since changed his routine.

"When I finally got in there, I felt terrible," Frasor said. "So this time I'm going to do it every other day and maybe that will keep me a little more fresh and I'll be a little more prepared when I get in there.

"I know my time will come eventually," he added. "It does feel a little strange, though."

Pitching matchup
TOR: RHP Shaun Marcum (3-2, 2.70 ERA)
Marcum is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two career games against the Rays.

TB: RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 6.16 ERA)
Garza is 0-1 with a 23.63 ERA in one career start against the Blue Jays.

Bird seed
Jays shortstop David Eckstein exited Tuesday's game in the fifth inning with a sore right hip flexor and is considered day-to-day. ... Jays backup shortstop John McDonald left Tuesday's game in the sixth inning after injuring his right ankle and could potentially be headed to the 15-day disabled list. ... A.J. Burnett struck out 10 batters on Tuesday, marking the 17th time in his career he's had at least that many in a game. ... Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart singled in the third inning on Tuesday to extend his season-best hitting streak to five games. .... Jays catcher Gregg Zaun has reached base with a hit or a walk in 22 of his 25 starts this season. ... Marcum is 10-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 36 career games at Rogers Centre.

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Up next
• Thursday: Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 4-1, 4.32) vs. Rays (Edwin Jackson, 2-3, 4.98), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Friday: Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 3-4, 3.00) at Indians (C.C. Sabathia, 1-5, 7.51), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Blue Jays (Dustin McGowan, 2-2, 2.95) at Indians (Aaron Laffey, 0-2, 2.84), 7:05 p.m. ET

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.