When the Toronto Blue Jays signed George Springer this past off-season, many thought that Randal Grichuk’s days in Toronto were numbered given how the outfield picture became a lot more crowded with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez already on the roster.
While this may have been an easy notion to consider before the season started, when Springer was put on the injured list (IL) prior to Opening Day and Grichuk started to get penciled into the lineup on a daily basis, the righty slugger took the opportunity and has seemingly put it to good use over the past few weeks.
In 21 games so far this season, Grichuk is currently sporting an impressive .292/.350/.514 slash line with four home runs, 16 RBI, and a .864 OPS. He is currently one of the top hitters on the Blue Jays roster alongside Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and currently leads the team in RBI and is tied for first in games played (21) and doubles (4) as well as being one home run behind both Bichette and Marcus Semien (5).
Considering there was a possibility that Grichuk could have been relegated to the bench to begin the season to now being one of the Blue Jays clutch hitters more than three weeks into the campaign is the exact definition of a player taking full advantage when given the opportunity to play every day.
Now with the Blue Jays season less than a month old, there is the one question that we have to consider with Grichuk and his past history: can he sustain the momentum, or is he just in one of his hot streaks?
Grichuk can produce at a high level when he is seeing the ball well, but he goes through various inconsistencies when it comes to producing at the plate, something Blue Jays fans are used to seeing since he arrived North of the border. The outfielder’s usual tactics involve getting a hit or two in a three to five game span and then going hitless in his next few outings, seeing his batting average hover between the .240 area when the season comes to a close. He has the power and ability to drive in 20+ home runs and 60-80 RBI a season, but it will be a rollercoaster of highs and lows throughout the year to get there.
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Could this year be different for the Texas native? It sure could, but again, the season is early. While he is performing well so far through April, the outfielder is starting to develop a small trend but similar trend where he will get hits in four-five games and then go hitless for two, which is an improvement over the usual highs and lows he’s produced in previous years.
Considering Springer and Hernandez are going to be returning to the roster within the next week or two, there is no question that manager Charlie Montoyo is going to have to find a way to keep the hot hand of Grichuk in the lineup on a regular basis. A few combinations include:
- Moving Grichuk to the designated hitter/bench outfielder role for continued at-bats
- Moving Hernandez to the designated hitter role and keeping Grichuk in right field
- Moving Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the bench and have Grichuk take his spot (as Gurriel is struggling to find his groove to begin the season, but did hit well yesterday against the Rays).
- Rotating the outfielders on a regular basis to keep guys rested as all four outfielders bat right-handed (so no lefty/righty pitching matchups).
While these are just four potential options, the fact remains that Grichuk is currently one of the key contributors on the Blue Jays offense, and even with the imminent return of Springer and Hernandez, the lineup should be juggled in a way that keeps the righty slugger in that batter’s box to help the Blue Jays win games.
If he starts to develop the inconsistencies or starts to struggle to put the ball in play, then Montoyo can move him more to a bench role, but he should at least let him keep hitting and basically keep him fighting for time in the lineup as he’s currently got something working for him that is helping the Blue Jays put runs on the scoreboard.
Grichuk’s going nowhere. Not anytime soon at least.