It sounds like there may be a platoon in left field this season with Billy McKinney and Teoscar Hernandez. What does it mean for the latter’s playing time?
The Blue Jays will likely be spending the 2019 trying to develop their young players as much as possible, but it’s also about evaluating which players could be part of the long term plan. One of the best examples of their evaluations this year could be with Teoscar Hernandez.
The other day Ross Atkins mentioned that the Blue Jays may utilize a platoon situation in left field this season, which will likely directly effect Hernandez. With Kevin Pillar in centre and Randal Grichuk in right field, those two spots are likely more or less established, at least in the short term. That means the rest of the outfield options will need to battle for playing time in left field, and it’s a crowded picture.
For now, it looks like the Jays may utilize a platoon situation with Hernandez and Billy McKinney, the lefty swinging outfielder who was acquired from the Yankees last year and impressed last in the season. The problem for Hernandez is that he’s on the weak side of that platoon situation, which means he could be looking for ways to get into the lineup. The Blue Jays have also mentioned the possibility of using Devon Travis, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., or even Brandon Drury in left field as well, so playing time isn’t exactly a given.
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Chances are that Kendrys Morales will give up a lot of at bats this year to the younger players, and my assumption would be that Hernandez will get some playing time at DH, especially with his weak defensive skills. That said, if the Blue Jays truly want to make him a part of their long term plans, or at least see if he’s going to perform well enough to warrant that, playing him in the outfield is pretty necessary. His will play at this level, especially with more experience, but his defence was atrocious last year and he’ll need to keep working on it.
It’s also possible that McKinney sees a little bit of playing time at first base, where he appeared during a Grapefruit game earlier in the week. That flexibility will certainly help his cause, but he does have minor league options remaining as well, which could help Hernandez’s case. Unless of course the same thing happens to him, but that seems doubtful at this stage.
For a team that’s not expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2019, the Blue Jays have a lot of options for how they fill out their lineup card. I don’t even the job that Charlie Montoyo will have at times this season, even if injuries and performance will help his cause. For now, he’s going to be tasked with trying to find a way to get as many valuable contributors into the lineup as he can, and that could be a tough job when it comes to Hernandez.