Blue Jays: A bumpy, but successful first season for Charlie Montoyo

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 05: Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during the third inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 05, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 05: Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during the third inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 05, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays may have had a rough season in the first real year of rebuilding, but overall I would say it’s been a success for Charlie Montoyo as a rookie skipper.

The Blue Jays enter their last three game series of the season with a record of 65-94, which would lead you to believe that it’s been a disappointing 2019 campaign.

That’s partially true to be sure, but anyone who was paying attention before the year began knew that the Blue Jays were going to be in tough, especially because they had jettisoned so many veterans already and replaced them with homegrown players. The front office wanted to give a lot of those youngsters an opportunity, and do a lot of evaluating of what they have in the early stages of the rebuild, and this season was about those things far more than it ever was about winning.

With that in mind, it’s not at all fair to pin the blame of the poor record on the Blue Jays’ first-year manager, Charlie Montoyo. Montoyo took the helm knowing full well that he was going to have to guide the ship through some rocky waters this year, and he had to do just that as the roster became a revolving door at times. Not only did the Blue Jays have to deal with plenty of injuries, especially to their pitching staff, but the front office also traded away several useful veterans in July like Marcus Stroman, Eric Sogard, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Hudson, and more.

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The whole equation left a very difficult job for Montoyo, and one that would have left experienced skippers feeling frazzled. I’m sure there were times that the 53-year-old wanted to pull his hair out, but he stayed composed and helped guide a very young team against some difficult competition.

There were times this season that Montoyo was working with no more than two actual starters in his rotation, and somehow had to piece together the other three out of five games with a series of “openers” and “bulk guys”, and most of the time he was working with very inexperienced pitchers, or in other cases, arms they’d picked up from the scrap heap.

The development of their young core like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and more has been extremely important, but the Blue Jays may have stumbled into a few useful bullpen pieces as well throughout the season. Guys like Wilmer Font, Justin Schafer, Jason Adam, and Buddy Boshers have all been solid contributors, and Montoyo’s trust and use of their skill sets has gone a long way.

And speaking of the development of the young core, I think the Blue Jays’ coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for the way most of these guys have transitioned to the highest level. A lot of that credit goes to their coaches throughout the minor league system as well, but Montoyo and his crew have done an excellent job of acclimatizing these kids to the challenges of the big leagues, and the majority of them have thrived as a result.

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He might be entering the final weekend with a .409 record in his first season at the helm in Toronto, but Charlie Montoyo should be proud of the work that he’s done this year, and I’m sure the Blue Jays recognize it as well. Given the circumstances and the limited roster they were working with, the record doesn’t matter, and I really think the skipper helped them take some important steps toward success in 2020 and beyond.

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