Toronto Blue Jays: Brandon Drury and his struggles to start the season
Toronto Blue Jays utility infielder Brandon Drury has struggled to get his offense going this season, and time might be running out for the right-hander to find his groove.
Infielder Brandon Drury was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays midway through the 2018 season in a trade that saw J.A. Happ heading to the A.L. East rival New York Yankees. While many consider him more of a bench/utility player, Drury did suit up in 120 games for the Blue Jays last season, collecting a modest .218/.262/.380 slash line with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.
The 2020 season has unfortunately not been very kind to Drury, as he missed a significant part, if not all, of the Blue Jays summer camp with an undisclosed injury, and would eventually join the roster on July 26 when the season was already a few games deep. To make matters worse, Drury has struggled to find a way to get on base this season, with 18 games played and a less than ideal .179/.214/.205 slash line. He also hasn’t hit a home run this season, while only driving in 1 RBI.
Considering Drury is more of a bench player than a starter, out of the 17 games has played, he only has 38 plate appearances and has only played in 6 complete games. His results are a bit skewed given that he doesn’t have a ton of at-bats (small sample size), but considering starting shortstop Bo Bichette could be out for another 2-3 weeks and every game has more significance with the shortened season, one could argue on why Charlie Montoyo keeps sending Drury out every day given that his bat has been so lackluster.
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Don’t get me wrong, his fielding ability has been consistent across the diamond (Thursday night being an exception), it’s just tough to seem him keep floundering at the plate when the Blue Jays do have the potential to make the playoffs through the extended playoff team expansion.
Considering Drury is struggling, do the Blue Jays have other options?
One option is to give more innings to prospect Santiago Espinal, who is a plausible replacement to take more reps at shortstop given his minor league history. While he too struggled to begin the season, he has now raised his average to .217, as well as looking comfortable defensively anywhere manager Charlie Montoyo has placed him this season.
His stats are also skewed given the number of plate appearances he’s incurred from coming off the bench, as well as bouncing between the taxi squad and the main roster in 2020, but he could slot in as a utility infielder for the Blue Jays this season as well.
Another option the Blue Jays could use is to replace Brandon Drury with a younger prospect like Jordan Groshans or Austin Martin. While this does seem like a bit of a stretch, I can personally say I am not a big fan of bringing up younger prospects this season.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Groshans and Martin have huge potential and will eventually join the Blue Jays roster in the near future, but rushing both players considering Groshans spent most of last season on the IL and Martin was just drafted this year and has limited pro ball experience seems more of a hindrance to their development than a strengthening argument.
Stranger things have obviously happened, but history would air more on the side of development and caution when it comes to Blue Jays’ prospects rather than rushing them to the major leagues in hopes of squeaking into the playoffs.
When Bo Bichette returns to the lineup, it will be interesting to see if the Blue Jays choose to keep either Drury or Espinal on the roster, given that management isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on optioning or DFA’ing long-tenured players this season. Drury has a few weeks to pull up that average, or the Blue Jays might just have to make a tough call when the Bichette returns back from his injury.