After a disappointing performance against the Chicago White Sox, I decided enough was enough, it’s time to look into why the Blue Jays are continuing to be bullied by left-handed pitchers across the Major Leagues.
The answer is pretty simple. When it all boils down to it, the Jays field a much worse team when opponents march a left-handed pitcher out to the mound.
For example, look no further than this past weekend when the Jays faced three lefties in a row (John Danks, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana). Saturday’s lineup featured a mutated right-handed dominant batting order in attempt to match up against the left-handed Sale. In effect, John Gibbons sat Juan Francisco, Anthony Gose and on Sunday Melky Cabrera in favour of Brad Glenn, Steven Tolleson and Darin Mastroianni.
The problem with that should be glaringly obvious; the Toronto Blue Jays fielded an inherently disadvantaged starting lineup last weekend. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon for Gibbons and the Jays.
This is not an example of poor managing by Gibbons by any measure. The proof is in the pudding here. Lind, Francisco, Rasmus, and Brett Lawrie all have a batting average below the mendoza line (.200) when facing left handed pitcher. The only everyday players in Toronto who have managed a 0.250 batting average or better against lefties are Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Therefore, when you add a platoon lineup with starters who cannot hit lefties already, what do you get? The Toronto Blue Jays and the 28th ranked offence against left-handed pitchers. But what can the front office do about this? Their hands are almost certainly tied when it comes to playing hitters such as Lind against lefties because of his .080 batting average against them but how can the Jays be a legitimate playoff contender if they cannot handle a southpaw?
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The answer, for me anyways, is to go out and acquire someone who can fill the void of a second or third basemen while also being able to compete against left-handed pitchers. Two players that come to mind are Martin Prado and Aaron Hill of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Prado is undeniably the better option for the Jays with a .268/.315/.363 slash, especially long-term with Prado being two years younger than Hill. However, Prado will likely cost more to acquire and since there are other holes which may need to be filled at the deadline, it might be best to go for the most cost-efficient option.
Thus we return to Hill. Hill isn’t quite the player Prado is but his .248/.287/.374 slash is still a welcoming upgrade being that Hill hits .281 against lefties this season. In the Jays lineup, that would place him as the second best hitter against lefties not including whoever may be currently platooning at second base.
It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire Hill either. At most, I’d surrender a mid-level prospect (Deck McGuire, Sean Nolin) along with a Major League utility player which the Jays are overflowing with (Kevin Pillar, Juan Francisco, Ryan Goins, Mastroianni).
Either way, the Jays cannot afford to field the same team if they reach the post-season. To beat Toronto, all a team would have to do is stack their rotation with left handed pitchers. Odds are, their .237 average against lefties wouldn’t be enough to win a series despite having the fifth best batting average against right handed pitchers.
So, come the deadline the Jays can either upgrade on one of their biggest weaknesses or sit back, fight for a playoff spot, and pray their opponents are littered with right handed pitchers.