Blue Jays: It’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s turn to carry the team
With the injuries mounting to the Blue Jays’ offence, it’s time for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to step up and carry the load if they’re going to keep contending for a playoff spot.
It’s more than a little impressive that the Blue Jays have been the best team in baseball since August 17th, and borderline baffling when you look at how many key contributors have been injured during this run.
This season it’s almost felt like the hottest hitter in the lineup has been destined for a trip to the Injured List and hopefully it’s a trend that won’t continue. First it was Bo Bichette with a knee injury that’s kept him out for the last 29 games, then it was Teoscar Hernandez who caught fire and then sustained an oblique injury. The latest casualty was Rowdy Tellez, who had been hitting .417 over the last seven games leading up to his season-ending knee injury. So far the Blue Jays have managed to weather the storm, but for that to continue they’re going to need others to step up.
And it’s time for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to take the reigns and lead this offence.
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That might sound a little silly to Blue Jays fans who have watched the majority of games this year, as Guerrero Jr’s results have been mixed at best. He’s currently slashing .245/.326/.421 with six home runs, eight doubles, and 22 RBI across 159 at-bats. He had started to trend in the right direction at one point, but he’s hitting just .167/.286/.292 over his last seven games and 24 at-bats, and the Blue Jays are going to need more production from the former top-rated prospect in the game.
They’ve been getting by with a balance of an excellent performance from the pitching staff, and unexpected contributions from guys like Joe Panik, and even Tellez prior to his injury. However, there’s a reason that Vlad Jr. was hyped as much or more than any player in franchise history prior to his arrival in the big leagues. He’s immensely talented, and he has the ability to carry the offence for a week or two at a time when he’s right. With 17 games remaining in the regular season schedule and a 2.0 game lead on the Yankees for 2nd in the AL east, now is as good a time as any.
While Tellez will likely be lost for the remainder of the year, it sounds like Bichette is nearing a return, and hopefully we’ll see the same from Hernandez before the playoffs get underway. The Blue Jays should also get some reinforcements back to the pitching staff soon like Ken Giles and Nate Pearson, which will certainly help as well.
That said, none of it will matter if the Blue Jays can’t find a way to get things down over the next couple of weeks. It might be a lot to ask of a 21-year-old, but they’ve had a lot of big performances from young players this year, and it’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s turn to carry the load for a while.