Blue Jays Morning Brew: Kevin Pillar’s Place


With an off day on Monday, there was no Blue Jays game action to comment on, criticize or analyze. But, that doesn’t stop us from talking Blue Jays. Here’s a collection of what’s been said over the interweb in our Morning Brew.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

At the National Post, John Lott tells us that the Blue Jays rookies are going through a bit of “angst” as they adjust to life in the big leagues. He uses the backdrop of the recent performances of Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris (in the loss to the Braves) as examples of the struggles that the team’s 6 rookies will go through as part of learning to play at this level. Just like Norris’ dead arm is something that you just have to ride out, so to are the struggles of being a rookie. The question will be: how long will the Blue Jays be OK with riding these struggles out? Although, it is not like there are a whole lot of options to step in; certainly not 6!

At the Globe and Mail, Robert MacLeod describes the underdog that is Kevin Pillar. From watching his name be passed up in the 2011 draft all the way up to the big league club, Pillar’s journey with the Blue Jays has been a battle the whole way. “For Kevin Pillar, nothing has come easy. He was always perceived as the long shot, the low draft pick that nobody ever expected to be able to materialize into much.” And, there it is. Many Blue Jays fans have thought of him as an add on, a 4th outfielder. But, his recent play is starting to warm us up to the idea of him taking on a more prominent role with the Blue Jays. This will come in to play when Michael Saunders returns to the lineup. Just where will Pillar fit into this? Will he split time with Pompey? Will he be used in a platoon role? Right now, it is easy to say Pillar has earned his everyday spot. When there are other options, will we begin to question this again?

Baseball Essential attempted to answer the question of what to do with Pillar once Saunders returns. Dustin Saracini presents 3 options: 1) Stay with the original plan- Pillar and Saunder platoon. While it is not clear that that was the exact plan, it may make sense given that Saunders is just coming off a knee injury and leg issues. He may need to be eased in. 2) Saunders can platoon with Pompey in CF and Pillar can stay at LF. Blue Jays fans would likely prefer to see Pillar in CF rather than Saunders if this idea is to be considered, though. Over the last 2 seasons, his Saunders’ CF experience resulted in a UZR/150 of -19.7 & -15.5. Pillar put up 5.4 last season. 3) Go with the “hot hand”/ match ups. Perhaps using Pillar, Pompey, Saunders (Jose Bautista is cemented in RF) to fill the 2 spots may be the better way to go. This will also provide the chance to have Bautista DH, etc. Either way, it is a good problem to have.

And, if there is any doubt as to whether Pillar has earned his spot, Jeff Sullivan of compiled a week’s worth (given the length of the 2015 season thus far, there isn’t much more than that) of evidence to highlight (with video) exactly what he’s been able to pull off defensively. His amazing catch aside, he’s also provided many other contributions. As you’ll see in Sullivan’s piece, Pillar has been doing it with the glove AND his arm. It will be tough to pull him from the field with this as his 2015 resume.

Next: Are Blue Jays in on 19 yr Old Cuban Flame Thrower?