Blue Jays catchers struggling at a very unfortunate time of the season
The Toronto Blue Jays are in a peculiar spot in that they have three catchers on the active roster in Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Reese McGuire.
The Jays have used a few different players behind the plate this season since Jansen and Kirk have both missed considerable time on the injured list, with McGuire beginning the campaign down in Buffalo (and off the 40-man roster) before being added about a month into the season. Former prospect Riley Adams was also used before for a short time before Jansen returned to the roster and Adams was shipped off to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Brad Hand at the trade deadline.
With the rosters expanding in September to 28 players, the Blue Jays can afford to have all three on the roster, potentially utilizing Kirk’s bat in the designated hitter role before George Springer moved into the spot given his knee injuries preventing him from playing in center field.
However, the catching crew for the Blue Jays has not been hitting the ball well as of late and with the club needing some timely wins over the next week to keep their playoff hopes alive, this could have not have come at a more unfortunate time.
The trio of Blue Jays catchers is struggling to produce at the plate right now at an unfortunate time of the season as the club tries to make the playoffs.
Over their last seven games, all three catchers are sporting the following lines:
Kirk: .000/.133/.000; 13 at-bats; 0 hits; 0 RBI; 2 walks; 2 K’s
Jansen: .133/.188/.133; 15 at-bats; 2 hits; 0 RBI; 1 walk; 1 K
McGuire: .154/.200/.154; 13 at-bats; 2 hits; 1 RBI; 1 walk; 3 K’s
Overall, these lines are tough to look at considering the Blue Jays need all the run support they can throughout the lineup.
Although Jansen has struggled all season to make consistent contact (.209/.287/.423 with a .711 OPS) it is awkward to see Kirk in a slump, considering he is a bat-first type of player. He is currently riding a seven-game hitless streak (three games were pinch-hit scenarios and one was defensive replacement to be fair) but his average has fallen over 23 points since September 13th. McGuire has the least amount of action compared to the other two but his left-handed bat is a plus on the bench, one of the main reasons he is most likely still around.
With the catching position, the defensive ability can outweigh the batting ability if they can block, call a good game, and throw baserunners out with consistency. Here is how all three stacks up right now:
Kirk: .994 fielding percentage; 20% base runners caught stealing
Jansen: .996 fielding percentage; 20.8% base runners caught stealing
McGuire: 1.00 fielding percentage; 35.5% base runners caught stealing
McGuire has the most base stealing attempts at 31 and has thrown out 11 batters, boasting the highest base runners caught stealing percentage on the squad. Kirk is on Buck Martinez’s naughty list with his one knee down technique but his throwing to second has drastically improved this season. McGuire boasts the best fielding percentage however he does have the most past balls (four) out of the three while Jansen continues to be Hyun Jin Ryu’s primary catcher when the pitcher is healthy.
The next week or two will be interesting as the club will most likely have to drop one of the catchers for a postseason run if the Blue Jays make the playoffs via the Wild Card. There are pros and cons to keeping each player on the roster but it should be noted that McGuire is out of minor league options, meaning he would have to be designated for assignment if the club was to drop him from the club. That may be enough to persuade the front office to keep him in the fold and drop Kirk or Jansen to the minors/taxi squad but the Blue Jays need to make the playoffs for this concept to be worrisome.
Nevertheless, the Jays catchers need to start producing at the plate and somebody has to step up as the club enters the gritty part of the season and a loss can have a detrimental impact on the postseason plans. Who will buck up in the time of need?