Blue Jays: Why Teoscar Hernandez could be the key to the offence
It might be obvious to say that a Silver Slugger award winner is an important player, but for Teoscar Hernandez and the Blue Jays it goes far beyond that.
It’s been very unfortunate that the Jays have had to do without George Springer’s services again after waiting for so long to him to return, but the blow of his absence has been softened by the presence and contribution of Hernandez now that he’s back after a case of Covid-19 that kept him out for a few weeks.
Hernandez’s thunderous bat brings a lot of upside to the Blue Jays, making the team better as a whole, and helping his teammates in the process.
First and foremost it makes the lineup even longer, replacing a player like Jonathan Davis or Josh Palacios with a 40 home run threat. If and when the Blue Jays can have a fully healthy lineup again, having the presence of Hernandez along with George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. means good hitters like Marcus Semien, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Cavan Biggio can hit in the bottom half. That’s exhausting for opposing pitchers.
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Speaking of teammates, Hernandez being back might make the biggest impact on Vlad Jr. as the season goes on. The 22 year old tore apart the league for the first month, but more recently opposing pitchers have been working him a lot more carefully. They’re going to continue to do that as long as he keeps up the torrid hitting pace, but they’ll have to pitch to him a lot more when Hernandez is waiting on deck, and that could make a massive difference. There are plenty of examples of lineup protection I could point to, but for long-time Jays fans, think about what a guy like Carlos Delgado could have done in the early 2000’s if he had a guy like Hernandez forcing pitchers to throw him a strike.
The 28 year old has looked pretty solid in the outfield so far as well, and that certainly helps Charlie Montoyo fill out the lineup card. With Springer having to hit the Injured List again on Wednesday, the Blue Jays can rest easier now that Hernandez is healthy as they can start him in right field and keep Randal Grichuk in centre. With Biggio also cycling into the outfield on a fairly regular basis, the Jays can give each of their regulars a day as the designated hitter to rest their legs.
More importantly though, his bat will make a difference for this team, and might be the key between being a legitimate playoff contender or a team on the outside looking in. For this snake-bitten roster, health might be the most important factor in 2021, but thankfully Hernandez is back and already making an impact and could be a close second.