Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had to exit the game after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday, and if he has to his the Injured List the Blue Jays have a few different ways they could cover his absence.
Hopefully he’ll wake up feeling better than expected on Thursday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had to miss a few days at minimum, or even needed to spend 10 days on the IL. If that’s the case, I thought it might be interesting to look at the different ways that the Blue Jays could cover for a potential absence, and we’ll hope that this ends up being a futile exercise.
For starters, the Jays are fortunate to have three starting calibre outfielders in George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk who can play the bulk of the games for the next little while. Chances are the Blue Jays will bring Jonathan Davis back to the MLB roster for the time being, and he can serve as the back-up for the main group.
What’s a little more interesting is how the Blue Jays will use the DH spot if Gurriel Jr. is on the sidelines for more than a day or two. Lately they’ve been cycling one of their outfielders through on a fairly regular basis so they can all get regular playing time, and then giving a half-day off to guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as well.
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If the Blue Jays want to get creative, they could do a few different things. For example, if they want to give one of Springer, Hernandez, or Grichuk a day at DH, there is always the option to start Cavan Biggio in the outfield on occasion. He’s not quite as good defensively as the starting trio, but he can play in one of the corners and do a serviceable job. That would also allow the Blue Jays to start Santiago Espinal at third base a little more regularly, something that the 26 year old has arguably earned anyway.
Other days Charlie Montoyo could use Alejandro Kirk as the DH while starting Reese McGuire behind the plate. Kirk’s defence is still a developing tool at his young age, but his bat has shown itself as a dangerous weapon already, and it wouldn’t hurt to use him in that capacity and get him more regular at-bats.
The Blue Jays also had a welcome sight when Corey Dickerson made a rehab start in the minor leagues on his way back from injury. The veteran outfielder was injured when the Blue Jays acquired him from Miami along with Adam Cimber, and it wasn’t known when or even if he’d make it back this season. He’s not going to be an immediate solution at the MLB level, but if Gurriel Jr’s elbow turns out to be a longer-term problem then he may turn out to be a valuable addition.
As I said above, my hope is that Gurriel Jr. can take a day or two off and re-join the team, as his talented bat makes the lineup longer and more dangerous. However, there’s no need for fans to panic if he needs a bit of time before he can get back on the diamond.