Charlie Montoyo has played with the Blue Jays’ batting order quite a bit so far this season. How should he be lining things up?
The Blue Jays missed another opportunity to pick up a win against the Red Sox on Sunday, dropping the contest by a score of 5-3 after Mitch Moreland hit a walk-off home run in the 9th inning. Unfortunately they’ve narrowly missed several wins this season, and with a few “ifs” and “buts” their record could certainly look a lot better than 5-8.
So far Charlie Montoyo has tinkered with the lineup quite a bit while looking for the winning combination. That has included shuffling a few players in and out of the lineup, but it’s also come through playing with the batting order as well. Admittedly, I haven’t always agreed with some of the cards he’s filled out, so I figured with that said, I should give my take on how he should line things up.
I figured I would break it down to a lineup against right-handed starters, and one for southpaws, even if the Blue Jays don’t really operate any strict platoons. I’m sure some of the decision making will be made by riding the hot hand, but with a TON of games in a short time, and several double-headers on the schedule, everyone will need a day off now and then.
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Without further adieu, here’s how I would be lining things up right now.
1- Cavan Biggio (2B)
2- Bo Bichette (SS)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (RF)
5- Travis Shaw (3B)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
7- Rowdy Tellez (DH)
8- Randal Grichuk (CF)
9- Reese McGuire (C)
I’m in favour of one tweak that Montoyo has made lately, and that’s flipping Biggio and Bichette at the top of the lineup. I do think it works either way, but I actually like the idea of having Biggio at the top of the order with his typically solid on-base percentage to lead things off. More importantly, I love the idea of giving Bichette a chance to hit with a runner on in the first inning. Yes, he can jumpstart the offence from the leadoff spot as well, but I think the Blue Jays could have a lot of 1-0 leads after the first inning with a Biggio walk followed by a double from Bo.
I don’t like the idea of dropping Gurriel Jr. all the way to 6th, but I think it’s important for Montoyo to break up his left-handed hitters with a lineup like this, and it does give the group more length. As for Teoscar Hernandez, I think he’s earned a spot in the first four hitters in the lineup, and I think the protection he could provide would be of great benefit to Vlad Jr., who has been streaking lately anyway. Others like Joe Panik and eventually Derek Fisher will factor into the equation against righties as well, but this would be the “regular” lineup I’d use.
One of the first things you’ll likely notice is that I have Rowdy Tellez in both lineups. That might seem odd considering he’s currently slashing just .143/.244/.257 across his first 35 at-bats. However, I believe that Tellez performs at his best when he’s consistently in the lineup. I also think the Blue Jays need to evaluate his place with team for the long-term. If he’s going to stick, he’s going to have to hit lefties as well. Last season he actually hit better against southpaws as well, which also helps.
Otherwise I’ve went with a pretty right-handed lineup here, and Anthony Alford would be another player that would factor into regular starts against lefties, giving the outfielders a day off their feet. As for Danny Jansen, I still think he’ll end up making 60% or more of the starts for the Jays this year, even if he’s currently struggling at the plate, so he’ll get starts against right-handers as well.
I can’t say that I blame Montoyo for tinkering with the lineup a little bit, but I haven’t always been a fan of the decisions he’s made. As for key points, I hope that he keeps Hernandez in the early part of the lineup, at least for the time being, and to do the same for Vlad Jr. I also hope that he spreads the left-handed hitters out in the lineup a little more than what we saw on Sunday, when they had three in a row, and four out of five when the lineup turned over.
While there have been plenty of positive signs from this talented young group, so far they haven’t been able to finish off enough wins to really jump into the post-season race. Hopefully that will change over the next few weeks, and we’ll see if Montoyo settles on a few lineup combinations, or if the shuffling continues.