J.A. Happ has thrown just 4 1-3 innings this year, with none in his last 11 days.
He's still hoping to make a case to join the Toronto Blue Jays rotation when he starts Monday night on the road against his first big-league team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
This outing for Happ (0-0, 4.15 ERA) was scheduled to be a spot start, with no off days for Toronto (14-17) this week thanks to this four-game stretch against the Phillies (15-14). The first two games are in Philadelphia before these teams that met in the 1993 World Series play twice in Canada beginning Wednesday.
With Brandon Morrow being placed on the disabled list over the weekend, there is an opportunity for Happ to make more of a bid to start. The concern is that he hasn't thrown a pitch since the last of his three relief appearances April 23.
"It's a little bit of a concern, but what are you going to do?" Happ told the Blue Jays' official website. "I think when I go out there I'm going to try and forget about that and just focus on trying to execute. I can't really change the reality of that, that is what it is. I'll do my best."
The main competition for Happ now figures to be rookie Marcus Stroman, who was called up Sunday.
Happ began his career with the Phillies from 2007-10. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts against them, and this marks his second outing as a visitor to Citizens Bank Park.
"It has been long enough I think that it's not a huge issue, but I definitely have a lot of great memories and an appreciation for that place," Happ said. "It's a great place to play."
Philadelphia is hitting .287 against left-handers for one of baseball's better marks, although it was limited to four hits Sunday against two Washington southpaws in a 1-0 victory.
The lack of offense wasn't an issue because Roberto Hernandez pitched four-hit ball over 7 1-3 innings. Chase Utley's RBI single in the first inning accounted for the only run.
''That set the tone for our game,'' manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Marlon Byrd went 0 for 3 as his seven-game hitting streak in which he batted .448 with two homers and 10 RBIs ended.
The Phillies had a major league-worst 5.53 ERA in interleague games a year ago and fared worse in their lone AL series this year with a 5.96 ERA in losing two of three at Texas to open the season.
Right-hander Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 3.52) is searching for his first win since Aug. 6. He's 0-7 with a 4.87 ERA in his last 12 starts.
Kendrick is 0-1 with a 6.91 ERA in three outings against the Blue Jays. He has had trouble against Jose Reyes, who is 13 for 33 against him.
Melky Cabrera is hitless in five at-bats versus Kendrick but he's batting .377 over his last 14 games.
Toronto's Jose Bautista has reached base in every game for the longest such streak to begin a season since Cincinnati's Joey Votto did it for the first 33 in 2011.