Toronto Blue Jays: The batting order after the top two

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 28: Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the dugout during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 28, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 28: Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the dugout during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 28, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo has already stated that Bo Bichette will lead off, followed by Cavan Biggio. What will the rest of the order look like?

At this time last year, many of us were legitimately wondering how the Blue Jays would line up their batting order. There are still plenty of questions around the same topic heading into the 2020 campaign, but there are definitely a lot more answers this time around too.

One of the things that has already been established is who will lead off, and who will hit in the number two spot, jobs that will be returned to Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio according to Blue Jays’ skipper Charlie Montoyo. Beyond that, Montoyo hasn’t made a lot of promises or given us many hints, other than the way he’s lined things up in early Grapefruit League games so far. There are some position battles yet to be determined of course, and even a few spots on the 26-man roster that are on the line right now, which could affect how Montoyo lines things up on a daily basis.

That being said, we seem to be getting an early hint that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. could hit in the third spot in the order, at least based on how the lineup card has been filled out so far this spring. If Gurriel Jr. isn’t lined up there to start the year, I’m sure the role will be handed to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who so far has lined up behind him in the clean-up spot.

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If we’re looking at the box score from yesterday’s game against the Twins for more hints, Montoyo may prefer to have a left-handed hitter in the fifth spot, which is where Travis Shaw started the game. After him came Randal Grichuk (R), Billy McKinney (L), Teoscar Hernandez (R), and Reese McGuire (L), allowing Montoyo to flip back and forth to give his lineup another dimension. He’s lined things up in a similar fashion during the small sample size we’ve seen so far as well.

Chances are McKinney will start the year in Triple-A, but otherwise this is likely pretty close to what the everyday lineup in Toronto will look like this year. Danny Jansen will split or even start a few more games with McGuire at the catching position, and there are others who could factor into the rotation like Rowdy Tellez, Derek Fisher, Anthony Alford, and even Joe Panik.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, what Montoyo has already told us, and what the Blue Jays’ hitters are projected to produce in 2020, here’s my best guess at what the starting lineup will look like:

Vs. Right-Handed starters

1- Bichette (SS)
2- Biggio (2B)
3- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
4- Vlad Jr. (3B)
5- Shaw (1B)
6- Hernandez (RF)
7- Tellez (DH)
8- Grichuk (CF)
9- McGuire (C)

Vs. Left-Handed Starters

1- Bichette (SS)
2- Biggio (2B)
3- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
4- Vlad Jr. (3B)
5- Hernandez (DH)
6- Grichuk (CF)
7- Tellez (1B) *hits LH pitching far better than Shaw
8- Alford (RF)
9- Jansen (C)

Of course, these aren’t going to be the only lineups that Montoyo uses, and he might not like what I’ve laid out here at all either. He’s also going to find playing time for Panik if he makes the team, and for Derek Fisher. In the scenario I’ve drawn out above, I don’t have Brandon Drury factored in either, and he could steal plenty of at-bats against southpaws if he makes the team as well. Jansen will also start against righties, and serve as more than a platoon option at catcher.

There are plenty of variables still at play, and things like injuries and spring performance could certainly affect how Montoyo plays his cards this year as well. There’s also the fact that if we look back to last year the Blue Jays used 148 (!) different lineups according to baseballreference.com, so they aren’t going to stick to the two I’ve put before you here, or any other firm combination. That number of lineups should go down with a more established roster this season, but things can also change in a hurry too.

dark. Next. Expect big things from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this year

What I feel like we do know is that Bichette and Biggio will lead things off, that so far Montoyo prefers to follow them up with Gurriel Jr. and then Vlad Jr., and that he seems to like to mix and match right and left-handed batters where it makes sense. As far as i’m concerned, I like the way he’s thinking so far, and it’ll be an interesting thing to follow, even into the regular season. The biggest difference is there is a lot more talent this year than last, and that makes Montoyo’s job a lot easier, and the games a lot more fun for us to watch. It should be a fun season, no matter how the lineup card is filled out.

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