TORONTO -- Right-hander Chad Jenkins likely will be sent to the instructional league early next week to prepare for an upcoming start later this month.
Jenkins, who spent the majority of this year starting for Double-A New Hampshire, has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays since being called up in early August.
The 24-year-old is a prime candidate to receive a start before the end of the year when the Blue Jays move to a six-man rotation. Before that happens, though, Jenkins will need to be appropriately stretched out.
"If he doesn't get into a game over the weekend, we could send him back to Florida for a [simulated] game [in the] instructional league to stretch back out," manager John Farrell said. "That's something that we've kicked around just to make sure that once he does get a start, at least we've stretched him out in some setting."
The timing of Jenkins' stint in the instructional league depends on when he is scheduled to start with the Blue Jays. Toronto is currently debating whether to use him during a doubleheader against the Orioles on Sept. 24. Another option is to start him one day earlier so that left-hander Ricky Romero can receive an additional day of rest in between outings.
The decision to move Jenkins into the starting rotation follows a more traditional approach to easing a prospect into the Major Leagues. Historically, teams often promoted their top young pitchers to a bullpen role before giving them a spot in the rotation.
That's changed in recent years, as teams have preferred to avoid bullpen roles, but Farrell sees a lot of benefit in the old approach -- one that is expected to be used in Jenkins' case.
"As the bullpen has become so specialized, I think there has been a movement toward that situational guy rather than a multi-inning reliever that transitions that way," Farrell said. "I think there might also be, in some cases, the thought that there's this natural innings buildup progression, that if you interrupt that for a year does that limit him the following year.
"There's a lot of benefit for a young guy to get exposure at the Major League level in shorter stints. That way they don't feel like, or they're not overexposed as a young pitcher and they can get their feet on the ground in that role that can be a little bit more protective."
Jenkins entered play on Thursday night with a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings this season. He has allowed 19 hits while striking out eight and walking five.