Charlie Montoyo has been a fan of balancing his right and left-handed hitters in the lineup in the past, however, it sounds like he’s given that up for now.
Give the way the Blue Jays’ lineup is constructed, that’s for the best. With the exception of Cavan Biggio, the Blue Jays won’t have a true, full-time left-handed bat in the lineup. Rowdy Tellez has the potential to play most of the time, but he’ll likely battle Randal Grichuk and others for at-bats, and he’s the only other lefty swinger.
Lineup balance isn’t as important as it used to be, for a few different reasons. First and foremost, if your right-handed hitters are strong enough it can make the point fairly moot in a hurry, and the Blue Jays have a pretty talented collection. If you line up George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Marcus Semien, I don’t think any right-hander is going to see an obvious break in the row.
The second piece of the equation is that the bullpen specialist isn’t as important as it used to be. Now that relievers must face a minimum of three batters (or finish the inning), MLB skippers have to use their bullpens a little differently. For example, if Biggio ends up as the leadoff hitter, you’re not going to see an opposing team bring in a southpaw to face him with Springer and Bichette likely to follow.
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Add it up and it makes sense that Montoyo is putting less emphasis on the idea of lineup balance, as Mike Wilner mentioned in his latest piece in his new gig at the Star. I’ve been in favour of the concept for most of my life, but I’ll admit that I thought the Blue Jays went a little too far with it in 2020. I say that because we frequently saw Travis Shaw hitting in an important spot despite his rather pedestrian production. Shaw ended up making 18 starts as the number three hitter out of 60 games, which is madness for a hitter who finished with an OPS of .717.
Balance won’t be the thing that Montoyo has to figure out in 2021, as his greater challenge will be how to line up his hitters, period. The Blue Jays had one of the most dangerous offences in the American League in 2021, and now they’ve added Springer and Semien to the fold as well. No matter how you want to stack them up, the Jays are going to have a hitter who is capable of being in the middle of the order hitting 6th, 7th, and even 8th. As tough as that may be for Montoyo to sort out at times, that’s the kind of problem you want to have.
Regardless of the direction he goes, Montoyo should find some pretty strong answers. Just don’t expect him to be concerned about where the lefties line up anymore.