Now that September has arrived and the rosters have expanded the Blue Jays are able to carry three catchers without leaving their bench or bullpen a little short. Having three catchers on the roster isn’t always the best strategy, but it certainly works for the Jays these days, especially in their current situation.
It’s been a frustrating season for Springer in his first year with the Blue Jays, and the injury bug continues to bite even as we enter the stretch run. The 31 year old missed significant time at the start of the year because of quad and oblique issues, and more recently he’s been suffering from a sprained left knee. Manager Charlie Montoyo has also been pretty transparent that it’s likely an issue that Springer will have to play through for the rest of the season, which is less than ideal.
After Springer fouled a ball off that same knee on Monday and crumped to the ground in pain, it wasn’t exactly shocking to see him getting the day off on Tuesday. Montoyo described the situation as “day to day” when speaking with the media, but after Monday’s added bruises it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss at least the rest of the series with the Yankees.
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I don’t expect Springer to stay on the sidelines any longer than he absolutely has to, but with the extra catcher on the roster the Blue Jays are better set up to handle giving him the time he needs. Using Kirk as the designated hitter allows Montoyo to keep another potent bat in the lineup, and it helps the Jays in another way too.
With all due respect to the 22 year old, I think it’s pretty clear that the defensive side of his game still needs some work. That’s more than understandable given the journey that he’s had to the big leagues, as he only played 165 MiLB games before making his MLB debut at just 21 years old. He’s made improvements as a receiver throughout the year, but there’s a pretty clear difference between his glove work and what both Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire can bring to the table that way.
Kirk has developed a solid rapport with Robbie Ray over the last few months and I’m sure he’ll continue to catch the Cy Young candidate, but otherwise I’d be more than okay seeing him used as the primary DH, at least for the time being. It takes the pressure of playing an important position off of Kirk’s shoulders, and allows him to focus on what he does best in the batter’s box. It also gives the Blue Jays improved defence, especially when it comes to holding runners on.
It’s definitely a temporary solution, but at least the Blue Jays have a back-up plan to help keep their hot streak going. Kirk made an immediate impact as the DH on Tuesday night with a pair of home runs, and don’t be surprised to see him back in there for at least the rest of the Yankees series.
I’ll admit that I’m contradicting myself a bit by saying this, as I recently wrote that an 80% Springer is better than not having him in the lineup. That said, I think Monday showed us that the 3x All-Star isn’t near that arbitrary 80% number I’ve set, and in order to contribute to the lineup the way the Blue Jays need him to, a few days off is probably wise. Thankfully Plan B ain’t so bad.