Hendriks likely to be fifth starter

Hendriks likely to be fifth starter

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays appear to be leaning toward making right-hander Liam Hendriks their No. 5 starter when the need for another pitcher arises on May 24.

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos made the trip to watch Hendriks pitch vs Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday afternoon. Hendriks responded by allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out three over seven innings.

The 25-year-old lowered his ERA to 1.48 and after being claimed by the Blue Jays during Spring Training he has now entered the conversation for a starting job.

"He's why I came. ... You want to see the 1.50 ERA for yourself," Anthopoulos told the Buffalo News. "He was good. Throws strikes, changes speeds. ... You know you don't have to have 60- or 80-pitch first appearance. He's fully stretched out."

The same can't necessarily be said about the other two pitchers in the mix for a starting role. Right-handers Marcus Stroman and Todd Redmond have been mentioned as possibilities, but both would be under strict pitch counts for at least their first appearance or two.

Redmond has spent the entire season in the bullpen while Stroman hasn't started since he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on May 4. That would seem to give the edge to Hendriks for a Saturday afternoon start vs. the A's on May 24.

Until this week, that news would have come at least as a mild surprise. Stroman has long been considered the next in line for a starting role but his recent stint in the bullpen means he might need more time to handle the workload.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.