The Toronto Blue Jays have been a dramatic team to watch this season, whether it be injuries to the pitching staff calling in reinforcements from different sources or the club leading the league in various offensive categories, fans have been through many ups and downs this season.
Returning to the Rogers Centre in late July and winning 9 of 11 games before going on a 3-6 road trip, the Jays closed out the month of August going 6-6 and are currently five games back of a Wild Card spot.
As of late, the Blue Jays lineup has had issues scoring with runners in scoring position, with multiple players struggling to produce at the plate such as Randal Grichuk (batting .095 through his last 21 at-bats), Teoscar Hernandez (.160/.250/.320 through his last 25 at-bats), and George Springer (four hits in his last 25-bats). Hernandez and Springer both had clutch hits and great games at the plate last night which is fantastic to see as the club needs both of them producing again, hopefully a sign of what is to come to finish out the campaign.
Since the start of the Chicago White Sox series back on August 23rd (11 games total), the Blue Jays have gone 20 for 89 (22.4% success rate) and have been struggling to put runs on the board. The offense has had a few players who have hit a rough patch as of late while the likes of Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are still finding ways to put the ball in play.
Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been playing well lately, slashing a grand slam last night against Oakland to help stage one of the biggest comebacks of the year.
One player who has been performing well lately for the Blue Jays is Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who had a rough start to the season but started to turn things around in mid-May/early June. He was slashing .214/.232/.298 on May 15th but has since turned things around to the tune of a .273/.311/.437 with a .748 OPS and 15 home runs. While the OPS is a little low compared to his past two seasons, Gurriel Jr. has hit quite a few milestones this season like playing in the most games in a season (117 so far) with a career-high 60 RBI with a few weeks left to go in the season.
Over his last seven games, the right-handed hitter has a .333 average with 21 at-bats with one home run and six RBI with four walks. His last 15 and 30 games have also been impressive, with the Cuban-born outfielder slashing .326/.404/.435 and .309/.375/.500 respectively.
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Another impressive stat for Gurriel Jr. this season is his three grand slams, with the outfielder coming in the clutch last night against the Oakland Athletics.
His four RBI home run in the eighth inning tied the ball game after the Blue Jays entered the bottom half down by six runs, making way for one of the biggest comebacks of the season that had fans rocking in the Rogers Centre. While his thunder would be stolen by Marcus Semien walking off the game with his own home run in the ninth, it was Gurriel Jr. and his clutch 107.5 MPH round-tripper that cleared 421 feet and got the club to the point where the team was able to come back and stay competitive.
For Gurriel Jr., finding a way to hit with consistency will help not only help himself keep getting at-bats as the season moves forward but will help this club stay on the hunt for a playoff spot via the AL Wild Card. While he isn’t near the top of the offensive leaderboards amongst left-fielders, Gurriel Jr. has been clutch for the club lately and has been improving his defensive ability whether it is in left field or the sporadic first base appearance (night off for Guerrero Jr. in the DH).
Considering there was a chance that the right-handed hitter may have been traded considering he was drawing interest this past off-season when the club signed George Springer, it is great to see Gurriel Jr. finding a way to keep being penciled into the lineup given the outfield is pretty stacked with Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Corey Dickerson on the roster. Factor in that his club-friendly seven-year, $22 million dollar contract is an absolute steal with contract control being worth its weight in gold, Gurriel Jr. is not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season.
While the Blue Jays will need to go on a hot streak to try and secure a postseason spot, having players further down in the lineup like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who is hitting well and can drive in clutch runs, can be a big help to playing October baseball.