How the story has changed for the worse
Looking back to the spring, there were several pieces to the equation that just haven’t been able to contribute much so far this season. In some cases that story should eventually reverse course, such as when George Springer can FINALLY get healthy and truly join his new team, but in others the narrative may have a more permanent effect.
The first player that comes to mind in this category for me would be Cavan Biggio, who is currently working his way from a neck issue that landed him on the Injured List. The 26-year-old entered the year in the conversation as one of the ideal candidates to hit near the top of the lineup. These days there are some folks that would argue that they’d be better using him as a utility player off the bench.
Prior to the injury Biggio had struggled to a slash line of .205/.315/.315 with just three home runs, three doubles, and 11 RBI. In addition to not being his typical on-base machine self at the plate, Biggio struggled with the transition to playing third base on a full-time basis, making six errors in the early going. He still has plenty of time to change the narrative about his future, but he feels a lot more expendable than he did a few months ago, and that definitely qualifies as an unexpected change.
Speaking of players that have fallen out of favour with the Blue Jays, Rowdy Tellez is another that fits that description. For what it’s worth, I thought Tellez would firmly establish himself as a part of this young core in 2021, and he’s done anything but thus far. The lefty slugger has slashed just .215/.275/.339 with only three home runs and six RBI across 121 at-bats. As things stand, Tellez may find himself on the outside looking in for playing time once Springer can make his way back.
Third on my list would be the excitement around Nate Pearson, who unfortunately has only made one MLB appearance thus far. Fans will be encouraged to hear that he had a great outing in Triple-A on Thursday night, but it’s been a disappointing start to the year for the hard-throwing right-hander, someone that many of us expected would factor heavily into the top half of the rotation. He’s battled a few injuries and some mechanical adjustments, and right now he’s just not ready to pitch at the highest level. Hopefully that will change sooner than later, but he was even passed by Alek Manoah on the latest update to Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect rankings. I didn’t see that one coming a few months ago.
I could make this list a lot longer, but the last name I’ll throw into the “changed for the worse” category would be Danny Jansen. To be fair, I don’t know that anyone thought Jansen would be a star in 2021, myself included. That said, he has to hit better than .157/.248/.278 if he wants to keep his starting job. That discussion is on hold now that he’s landed on the IL with a hamstring strain, but there’s no doubt that Jansen has lost some of the grip on his starting role.