With the Blue Jays a little deeper in the Grapefruit League schedule, we’re getting closer to Opening Day. With that, it’s getting harder not to think about how the Blue Jays may fill out the lineup card.
The Blue Jays have managed of their pre-season questions basically answered, having dealt with the back-up catcher job, among others during the offseason. Question marks remain such as who will start in left field, but for the most part Blue Jays fans are starting to be able to put together who may be on the 25 man roster.
The major changes for the lineup this year will be the absence of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders, and the additions of Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales. Morales will slide into EE’s spot as the regular DH, and Pearce figures to at least help filling the spot left by Saunders in left field, when he isn’t playing first base.
As we draw near to Opening Day, I thought it would be fun to look at how John Gibbons may fill out his lineup card, and give you my thoughts on how it should look. Obviously there is no one, correct answer, which is what makes it fun (or frustrating) to think about.
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For the purposes of this article, here are the 9 players in the lineup that I’m juggling:
- C- Russell Martin
- 1B- Steve Pearce
- 2B- Devon Travis
- 3B- Josh Donaldson
- SS- Troy Tulowitzki
- RF- Jose Bautista
- CF- Kevin Pillar
- LF- Ezequiel Carrera
- DH- Kendrys Morales
We could get into the whole “Smoak vs. Pearce” thing here, or talk about the left field battle, but these are the 9 players I see getting the most playing time, assuming the roster doesn’t go through any major changes.
And here’s how I would stack them up.
- Devon Travis
- Troy Tulowitzki
- Josh Donaldson
- Jose Bautista
- Kendrys Morales
- Steve Pearce
- Russell Martin
- Kevin Pillar
- Ezequiel Carrera
A lot of this lineup is pretty straight forward, so allow me to address a couple things that will no doubt stir up a bit of a debate. First of all, yes, I would put Tulo in the two-hole.
(The Blue Jays’ lineup for Thursday, March 9th, absent Bautista, Travis, Martin and Donaldson.)
Without Encarnacion on this roster, the Blue Jays will need to rely on a few others to produce. Obviously Morales will go a long way to helping with that lost production, but it’s not fair to expect him to put up the type of stats that “Edwing” managed in 2016. That’s where I hope Tulo comes into the equation.
By putting him in a more active role in the lineup, pitchers would be forced to throw him more fastballs, fearing what’s coming behind him. While I understand the logic that you want your best hitters at the top of the lineup, thus putting Donaldson second in the order, that’s why I see this move as so beneficial. If John Gibbons can find a way to get the most out of Tulo this season, the Blue Jays suddenly have another elite hitter, when Tulo hasn’t been “elite” since leaving Colorado.
I feel like there is an argument to be made for Steve Pearce and his .374 OBP from last season, being near the top of the order as wellI. It’s a role I believe he could and should fill when Tulo is getting a rest day, or Devon Travis isn’t healthy (cough). Ideally, everyone would be healthy though, and having Pearce hit in the 6th or 7th spot in the lineup also helps lengthen the order. Until Travis can return though, I’d have Pearce leading off if the choice was mine.
Beyond that, my lineup choices are pretty straight forward. Against left-handed starters, I’d platoon Melvin Upton and likely flip-flop him and Pillar at the bottom of the order, but otherwise it wouldn’t change much, as the Blue Jays don’t boast many right-handed hitters.
How would you fill out the lineup card? As I mentioned above, there isn’t a “wrong” answer, at least not at this point, before the season has begun. Feel free to give us your lineup card in the comments section, and