The Toronto Blue Jays could really use a lengthy outing from R.A. Dickey on Monday night.
Coming off his best start of the season, Dickey will try to give the Blue Jays' overworked bullpen a breather in the opener of a three-game road set against the Chicago White Sox.
Toronto (27-35) saw its relievers work 20 innings while winning two of three at home over Texas this weekend, with 11 from the bullpen in Saturday's 4-3, 18-inning victory.
Starter Josh Johnson lasted just five innings in Sunday's 6-4 defeat, and manager John Gibbons was forced to use four relievers - three of whom pitched Saturday.
"Ideally we were looking for more innings, but that didn't happen," said Gibbons, who will skip Monday's game to attend his son's high school graduation with bench coach DeMarlo Hale filling in.
An outing similar to what Dickey (5-7, 4.66 ERA) did Wednesday in San Francisco would be ideal. The knuckleballer yielded two hits over a season-best 8 1-3 innings in a 4-0 victory.
Dickey said he is changing speeds better now that he has healed from some mild inflammation in his neck and back.
"As I've gotten healthier, I felt like I've been able to have the latitude to be able to do that," Dickey said. "Before it was just trying to muster everything I could to survive an outing."
The only previous time this year Dickey turned in a scoreless effort was when he limited Chicago (27-34) to two singles over six innings and struck out seven in a 3-1 home victory April 18.
It may not be hard to duplicate those results since the White Sox own a .236 average. Chicago has scored more than four runs just once in a 3-10 stretch.
The White Sox, however, can record their first three-game win streak since May 24-26 after their starters helped them salvage a four-game split with Oakland. John Danks threw eight solid innings in Saturday's 4-1 victory and Hector Santiago was effective over 6 1-3 in Sunday's 4-2 win.
"It's not easy when everything's going bad," slugger Paul Konerko said. "You just hope that at some point it goes as good as it's gone bad."
Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 3.73) is the next starter for Chicago after throwing 5 1-3 scoreless innings in Wednesday's wild 7-5, 16-inning victory at Seattle.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays, yielding five homers over his last nine innings to them.
Colby Rasmus is 4 for 6 with two homers against him while Edwin Encarnacion and J.P. Arencibia are the other current Toronto hitters to take him deep.
Encarnacion is batting .429 during an 11-game hitting streak against the White Sox, and he went 8 for 14 as these teams split four games in Toronto from April 15-18.
Jose Bautista missed that series with a sore back. He's 0 for 3 with two walks against Axelrod.
Dayan Viciedo was 7 for 14 for Chicago in that set, but he's mired in a 3-for-41 rut. Adam Dunn is 0 for 13 in the season series.