Blue Jays: Keep rolling the kids at the top of the lineup

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Manager Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks back to his dugout after making his first pitching change after relieveing Aaron Sanchez #41 in the sixth inning during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Manager Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks back to his dugout after making his first pitching change after relieveing Aaron Sanchez #41 in the sixth inning during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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After seeing youth fill up the top of the lineup card for Wednesday night’s game against the Orioles, I’d like to see Charlie Montoyo keep rolling with a similar lineup card.

Thankfully the Blue Jays’ offence woke up and produced against the Baltimore Orioles in the second of their three-game set this week. It may have been at least in part because of the lineup used by Charlie Montoyo, which featured the youth at the top of the card.

Cavan Biggio was used in the leadoff spot, and while he didn’t get any hits in the game, he managed to draw two walks. He was followed by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the two-spot, and the former number one prospect in baseball had himself a night, picking up three hits, an RBI, and two runs scored. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. finished up the young trio at the top by going 2-4 with a walk and two RBI as well.

Obviously things aren’t going to go that well for the young players on a nightly basis, but allowing them to hit at the top of the lineup has several benefits. First, I would argue that they’re as good as any of the options that the Blue Jays have to hit in those spots, at least with Vlad Jr. and Guerriel Jr, and I’m confident Biggio will settle in as well in time.

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Secondly, it allows those young players to gain a lot of valuable experience, and most importantly, it would give them a chance to have a few extra at-bats, which is important in their development this year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but an extra 3-5 plate appearances a week will go a long way.

On a third note, I’ve been a big fan of the way these young players have grown together throughout their minor league development, and I’m definitely in favour of continuing to push that dynamic as they arrive in the big leagues. There’s something special about seeing Biggio driven in by Vlad Jr. at multiple stops throughout the organization, and then having it happen at the final rung of their development.

As the season progresses I hope the Blue Jays continue to set up their lineup in this way, and I’d even take it a step further and have Rowdy Tellez hitting in the 4th spot, even ahead of Justin Smoak and Randal Grichuk.

With all due respect to the veterans, the future is going to be around the youth of this team (even if Grichuk will be around for a while), so they may as well hand the reigns over now and see what the kids are made of. Unfortunately, having Grichuk and/or Smoak hitting higher in the lineup isn’t going to make much of a difference in the win column, and even if it did it wouldn’t matter much for the 2019 season anyway.

Speaking of the veterans on the roster, there’s a good chance that most of them will be on the trade market over the next seven weeks, and that could add more youth to the Blue Jays’ lineup before the season is out. If and when that happens, I would suggest Montoyo keep the same theme. I’m sure that guys like Bo Bichette will get eased into the league by hitting lower in the lineup to start off with (even Vlad Jr. started in the five-hole), but by August or September I hope the top looks something like this:

  • 1- Bichette (SS)
  • 2- Guerrero (3B)
  • 3- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
  • 4- Tellez (DH)
  • 5- Biggio (2B)

Danny Jansen would have one of the four remaining spots as the catcher, although his hitting still needs significant work before he’ll be ready to move up in the order. Grichuk will fill one of the outfield spots and it’s possible Teoscar Hernandez hangs on to the other. That just leaves first base, which could be filled by Tellez with someone else at DH, or maybe the Jays decide to hang on to Justin Smoak if the market doesn’t give them much in return.

Next. Timing of Bichette's return may work out perfectly. dark

However the 25 man roster is filled out later this year, I hope the club continues to feature the kids at the top of the lineup. Let’s face it, they’re going to be hitting in those more impactful positions if this rebuild is going to be a successful one anyway, so why not start ’em early? There’s really nothing to lose at this point.

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