I rarely hesitate to criticize the decision making of Charlie Montoyo for the Blue Jays, but I also think it’s important to give him credit where it’s due.
With that in mind, I’d like to give a tip of the cap to the bench boss for a few things over the team’s first 21 games. Yesterday I wrote about how at 10-11 and just 3.0 games back of the Red Sox for the division lead, things are nowhere near as bad as they’ve seemed if you’ve been watching throughout the first month. In many ways, the fact that the boat is still on the water is due to some solid managing.
I’m aware that he made some questionable decisions during the season’s first week, but since then I feel like Montoyo has really found his groove, at least when managing the pitching staff. Despite dealing with injuries to a long list of hurlers that includes Nate Pearson, Kirby Yates, Robbie Ray, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather, Jordan Romano, Tyler Chatwood and several more, the bullpen has been as effective as any group in baseball, and the rotation hasn’t been half bad either.
The bullpen in particular has been outstanding, and despite the fact that they’ve had to employ a “next man up” mentality while dealing with so many injuries, they’re finding a way to get the job done very effectively. Montoyo and pitching coach Pete Walker have done an excellent job of getting the most of their staff, but also setting them up for success.
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Sunday’s game against the Rays was a great example. When Hyun Jin Ryu had to leave early after feeling a strain in his glute muscle, the coaching staff had to find a way to patch together 5.1 innings. Just as Ryu had done before his exit, the rest of the staff combined to hold the Rays scoreless and hung on to a narrow 1-0 win.
It started with Tim Mayza giving up a pair of hits, but he ended up getting out of the fourth inning before a runner had crossed the plate. From there Tyler Chatwood threw a clean fifth and then turned the ball over to Ryan Borucki, who recorded five outs. Jordan Romano had made a shaky return the night before, so Montoyo wisely utilized David Phelps for three outs, and Rafael Dolis to get the last four.
According to long-time writer Richard Griffin, it was one of the finer jobs of managing a bullpen that he’s ever seen, which is high praise.
I’m not going to pretend that I think Montoyo is perfect, but considering the injuries and early adversity that this roster has dealt with, it’s not so bad that they’re sitting just one game under .500. It very easily could have gone better, but on the other hand, this team could be in a much bigger hole at the moment.
I still think Montoyo and this young roster will have a lot to prove throughout the 2021 season, but in the interest of fairness, you gotta give him credit when it’s due. Keep up the good work, skip.