The Blue Jays need more from the bottom of their order

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after striking out during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 03, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after striking out during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 03, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays were stifled offensively once again on Monday night, dropping their series opener against the division rival New York Yankees and seeing their early season record fall to a measly 4-6. Now this loss came against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who is a consensus top 5 pitcher in baseball, so a tough night is expected when he’s on the bump.

Last night’s rough performance is not an anomaly, as most fans are aware, this lack of offense is not a new trend early this season. The Jays bats have been cold for the first week and a half of the season and have resulted in them making pitchers such as Kyle Gibson and Andrew Heaney look like Cy Young candidates. If you take out the 15 runs they put up against the Angels on Saturday night/Sunday morning, the Jays are averaging 3 runs a game, which would rank 27th in all of baseball, tied with Miami.

Injuries have played a major factor in this slow start. Marquee free-agent signing George Springer has yet to play a game for the Jays, and is someone who we think is going to produce at a high level and be a major piece to this offensive when he returns. Along with Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez have each missed a handful of games due to Covid-19 tracing and effects from the vaccine.

Though injuries are a factor, it can not be used as an excuse for the team’s slow offensive start.  Every ball club deals with injuries. Look at the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are missing both Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts but have still managed to win 8 of their first 10 games. Every team has players that go down with injury, but the good ones are able to survive them by having depth options step up into bigger roles and still contribute.

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We haven’t seen this from the Blue Jays so far this year, and has led to players stepping into the bottom of the order and struggling against big league pitching.  Because of this, the lower part of the lineup has become a non-factor, and is the root cause of the Jays offensive struggles so far this season.

The Blue Jays 6-9 hitters have gone a combined  28 for 140 so far this season, posting a pathetic batting average of .200. This number gets even worse if you take out Saturday’s offensive explosion and drops to .157 on the season.

This lack of production from the bottom of the order means that the big boys batting in the middle of the lineup aren’t getting as many opportunities to drive in runs because no one is getting on in front of them and turning the lineup over.

Bo Bichette had his best game of the season during the Jays 15-1 routing of the Angels where he drove in five runs. He was able to do this because bench guys at the bottom of the order like Santiago Espinal and Josh Palacios were getting on base constantly and turning the lineup over, allowing Bichette to hit with runners in scoring position more often, which led to him driving in five of them.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been scorching hot to start the season and Bichette seems to be turning a corner and on the verge of a hot streak as well. The Jays are going to need to get some production out of the bottom of their order, to give their sluggers more opportunities to drive in runs. Now obviously getting Springer and Hernandez back will help with this, as it will push hitters like Rowdy Tellez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr down in the order, which in turn will make the bottom of the lineup stronger.

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Until then, guys like Rowdy Tellez, Josh Palacios, Alejandro Kirk, and Jonathan Davis are going to have to step up and start producing. If they fail to do so, the Jays will continue to struggle scoring runs and in turn will continue to lose ball games.

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