Blue Jays: How to Handle Manny Machado


With Baltimore’s star third baseman/shortstop tearing things up in the Grapefruit League, the Blue Jays pitching staff is going to have to find a way to deal with the three-time all-star.

Since breaking into the bigs, Manny Machado has boasted a .345 OBP against the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting 15 of his career 138 home runs against the boys in blue and white. It’s no secret that Machado has been a thorn in the collective sides of nearly six years of Blue Jays teams.

Despite looming concerns over his future in Baltimore, Machado is primed for another fantastic campaign of wreaking havoc in the ballparks of his AL East rivals. Steamer projections have him batting a more than respectable .291/.351/.543, with a WAR value of 5.6, aligning nearly perfectly with his career trajectory up to this point.

We all know the immense offensive prowess that Machado will bring to any ballpark, but the question remains: how does one get him out? Trust me, it’s not an easy task. Even though it’s not simple to come up with a definitive solution to get him out, one can certainly ponder based on the status of the pitching staff in question.

Currently, the Jays projected pitching staff contains 13 pitchers (assuming they open season with an 8-man bullpen), three lefties and 10 righties. The starting five will inevitably have to face Machado regularly, so they will not be taken into consideration.

Historically, Machado has fared fairly equally against pitchers from both sides of the rubber, so handedness will also not be a large factor here. However, he’s struggled against power pitchers, sporting a meager .251 average against flamethrowers. He’s also struggled similarly against fly ball pitchers, managing just a .255 average against them.

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As far as miscellaneous stats go, Machado has floundered in the 7th inning of games (.244/.299/.436), has trouble when he’s behind in the count (as many hitters do) and succeeds mightily when he swings at the first pitch (.316/.318/.512).

Taking all this data into consideration, our ideal Machado specialist is a flamethrowing, flyball reliever of either handedness who will appear primarily in the 7th inning. Oh, and he should also know how to work counts.

The solution: Ryan Tepera.

Not only does Tepera fit all the criteria outlined above, he’s also likely to be a major player in the Jays’ bullpen this year. Unfortunately, Ryan hasn’t been able to get Machado out, albeit in a very limited sample size.

Since beginning his major league career, Machado has gone 4 for 5 against Tepera. However, 80% of those plate appearances were in 2015, one year before his return to the minors where he focused on improving his command and honing his pitch movement.

Next: Blue Jays sign Tyler Clippard to minor-league deal

Regardless of how John Gibbons and the Blue Jays choose to pitch to Manny Machado, it’s fun to speculate and look a little deeper into some more unconventional statistics.