Blue Jays need to drop George Springer in one last lineup tweak
With 10 games left and now sitting a half-game back of the 2nd Wild Card spot, the Blue Jays need to make one last lineup tweak at the top, even if it’s looking pretty clear that Charlie Montoyo was hoping he wouldn’t have to.
While I admire that George Springer is playing through an injury to help the Blue Jays in their quest for the postseason, his presence hasn’t been all that helpful. The 32 year old has really been struggling at the plate since his latest return from the IL, slashing just .153/.254/.237 with only one home run and two RBI over his last 15 games. After going 0-5 on Wednesday night in the series finale with the Rays, the 3x All-Star is hitting just .111/.226/.148 over his last seven.
As much as the Blue Jays’ lineup looks better on paper with him at the top, they’re doing themselves a disservice by sticking with the status quote when Springer clearly can’t perform up to his usual standards. Personally, I’m more than okay with him suiting up on a regular basis, but I don’t think Montoyo has any choice but to adjust the batting order as this team tries to qualify for the postseason.
What does that look like? Well, Montoyo and his staff would have a few different options to consider. Things could always change, but the last time Springer was forced to take a few days off Montoyo was pretty against moving Marcus Semien from the second spot, or Vladimir Guerrero from third in the order. With that in mind, here’s how I’d roll things out over the last 10 regular season games if I were in Montoyo’s seat.
1- Bo Bichette (SS)
2- Marcus Semien (2B)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (RF)
5- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
6- Springer (DH)
7- Alejandro Kirk (C)
8- Dickerson/Grichuk/Dyson (CF)
9- Lamb/Valera/Smith (3B)
You can all but disregard the bottom third of the order as far as seeking regularity. Alejandro Kirk has received more playing time as the season has wore on, but there are still going to be nights when Danny Jansen gets the start, and even Reese McGuire is still getting an occasional opportunity. As for centre field and third base, it really seems to depend on the match-up, and now likely the status of Valera after he had to sit out to observe Covid-19 protocols on Wednesday after a family member tested positive.
With Springer having gone just 2-23 over the last six games, I really think the Blue Jays need to drop him down to at least sixth in the order, and maybe even 7th on nights when Kirk is the starting catcher. I considered putting him somewhere in the middle, or even just fifth ahead Gurriel Jr., but that didn’t make sense to me either. With all due respect to the compromised veteran, he’s a bit of a rally killer right now, and why would you want that right in front of the hottest hitter on the team, if not in all of baseball?
I know the rest of the formula has worked pretty well for the most part, and moving Bichette back to the top isn’t an ideal solution. That said, I don’t see how the Blue Jays can continue to roll with Springer at the top of the lineup, especially when he’s setting the table for so many impact hitters. It’s understandable that he can’t get the job done the way he usually does, and it’s admirable that he’s trying, but there is no time for anything but putting your best foot forward.
It’s entirely possible that Montoyo ignores this idea altogether and Springer gets hot against the Twins for the rest of the week, but sooner than later I think the Blue Jays are going to have to make an adjustment. The leadoff hitter is going to receive more plate appearances than anyone on the team, and it’s hard to justify having an injured Springer in that spot at the moment.