Villanueva, Laffey giving rotation needed boost

Villanueva, Laffey giving rotation needed boost

BOSTON -- Toronto's rotation appeared headed for a meltdown in June when the club lost three of its starters within the span of five days.

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, that hasn't been the case as both Carlos Villanueva and Aaron Laffey have stepped up to help fill the void.

The two hurlers have combined to go 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA while posting seven quality starts in nine outings. They are one of the main reasons why the Blue Jays have been able to remain within striking distance of the American League Wild Card despite the series of devastating injuries.

"Honestly, they've somewhat exceeded [my expectations] because it's not just inside of a given game, but it's now the consistency with three, four starts in a row that they've put up," manager John Farrell said. "They've not only kept the game in check, but they've worked deep into games.

"In their own style, they've been able to manage to the lineup and get through it three times. It's very encouraging."

Their success could not have come at a better time for a rotation that has Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison on the 15-day disabled list.

Despite both pitchers having spent time in the bullpen this season, they've been able to get stretched out enough to pitch deep into games. Laffey and Villanueva have thrown at least six innings in all but two of their starts, which has helped ease the burden on the relievers. It's everything Farrell could have asked for and more.

"If they can give us six innings, it will create some consistency and avoid those days where you've got to go to the bullpen in the fourth inning, and then you're trying to play catch up," Farrell said. "Particularly when we don't have that one guy that's going to give the bullpen a night off each time through the rotation.

"We have the capability of it, but it's not like we have a guy that can go out every time out and he's going seven-to-nine innings each time, to kind of plan for that down day. We'll take six innings each time out."