With both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki due to return to the lineup on Friday, the Blue Jays’ offence is close to firing on all cylinders.
The Blue Jays have been one of the more injury ravaged teams in baseball, as accurately pointed our by my colleague, Clayton Richer, with his article from yesterday regarding the amount of games lost to the DL. It’s been a crazy year for injuries in Toronto, but thankfully they’re about to get a couple of their greatest weapons back.
Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are both set to return to the lineup on Friday when the Blue Jays open up a home set against the Texas Rangers. Donaldson has been out since April 13th with calf issues, and Tulo joined him on the shelf on April 21st. Initially the club didn’t expect either to be out for a lengthy period, but it’s been that and more.
They’re still missing Steve Pearce, Dalton Pompey and Anthony Alford on the offensive side, but with the return of the two infielders the starting lineup is finally going to take shape. John Gibbons has to be smiling while looking at the lineup options, considering he’s had to slap together a lot of interesting lineups over the last month or more.
Another writer at Jays Journal, Sam Bruce, tweeted out how he saw the Blue Jays lineup being drawn up going forward. As I said in my exchange with him on Twitter, I think there are several great options to look at, including his, so I figured we could take a peak at a couple here.
Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? With all due to respect to Chris Coghlan, Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, Luke Maile and more, the lineup is much stronger with the return of their two All-Stars. Russell Martin missed time to the DL, and Kendrys Morales missed a few games as well, so as noted above, it’s been kinda ridiculous.
If I were drawing it up, I’d probably start with something like this:
1- Kevin Pillar
2- Josh Donaldson
4- Kendrys Morales
5- Troy Tulowitzki
6- Justin Smoak
7- Devon Travis
8- Russell Martin
Let me reiterate once again that I honestly believe there are several great options. There’s an argument to slide Devon Travis and his red hot bat to the 2 hole, pushing the others further down and lengthening the potent lineup. I can also understand the argument for keeping Smoak further up in the order, as he’s been arguably the best hitter for the entire campaign.
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It also seems silly to have Russell Martin in the 8 hole in my lineup, after the Blue Jays needed his bat so badly in the lineup that they slotted him at 3rd base in order to keep him in the clean up hole. It also shows just how deep this team is when the majority of their options are healthy and performing.
The other key factor is the emergence of Pillar and Smoak on offence. If we’re looking back a couple months ago, Pillar was slated as the likely 9th hitter, with the vast majority of his value coming on the glove side. Smoak likely would have made the team if not for the two year extension he signed last season, but he’s been a revelation thus far, making many Jays fans eat their words (myself included).
They may be sitting at 21-26 at the moment, and 8 games behind the division leading Yankees, but with 115 games left and a healthy roster, there’s plenty of reason to believe they could be in contention by the time summer rolls around.
With a healthy starting lineup (less Pearce, if you consider him a starter), how would you draw it up? As I said before, I think there are several great answers, and I look forward to seeing how John Gibbons sorts things out, especially with a couple of returning All-Stars.