Even if he’s relegated to DH duties and isn’t fully healthy, the Blue Jays need George Springer back in their lineup as soon as possible.
Earlier in the season I advocated for waiting as long as it took to get Springer back to 100% before returning to the active roster. That was a different time in the 2021 calendar though, and the situation is completely different these days.
After splitting their 4-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the Blue Jays are now 66-60 and 5.5 games back of the 2nd Wild Card spot with just 36 games left in the regular season. Time is running out if they’re going to have any chance of catching up with the Red Sox, and they’ll have to leapfrog the A’s and Mariners to get there as well.
Over the last few days we’ve seen some encouraging videos of Springer running in the outfield and on the bases. I’m not going to pretend that I’m a doctor or any kind of expert in the medical field, but as far as I can tell it looks like he’s very close to being ready, although I’ll admit that we’ve been through this before with the 3x time All-Star in 2021. The hope is that he’ll return this weekend against Detroit, and I say get him in the lineup as soon as he’s confident that he can play without immediately returning to the IL. He’ll have some protection from that in a DH role, but we’ve already witnessed him getting re-injured in a hitting-only role during the first half, so it is a real consideration.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Once he passes that hurdle though, I would argue that the Jays are better off with an 80% Springer at DH than what they’ve been rolling out lately. Despite scoring seven runs against the White Sox on Thursday, most of the damage came in the 5-run 6th inning. Take away that one inning and they’ve only scored 16 runs over their last seven games.
It’s not that Springer would be expected to save this offence, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have him in there, but also to hope that it would provide a spark for the rest of the team. Outside of Marcus Semien there hasn’t been much to write home about in the batter’s box lately, other than wasted opportunities with runners in scoring position. That said, we know the kind of potential that a lineup featuring Semien, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and more can provide, at least when they’re performing up to their normal standards.
The Jays are coming up on a stretch in their schedule that they absolutely have to take advantage of. They couldn’t do that when they hosted the Tigers in Toronto last week, but they need to take care of business in Detroit this weekend, and then do the same against the Orioles to begin next week’s schedule. It was disappointing to see them go just 1-4 against the Tigers and Nationals last week, and it can’t happen again if they want to maintain any shred of postseason hopes.
To that end, time is running out of the Blue Jays season, and if Springer is able to play without risking a long-term injury, there’s no reason to hold him back now.