The Blue Jays home opener against the Texas Rangers last night had fans on both sides feeling mixed emotions. I am sure not many would have predicted that starter Jose Berrios would have failed to get out of the first inning and I am also willing to bet that nobody penned having the Blue Jays down 7-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
Fast forward to the middle innings, and the bats finally made their way from Dunedin when the club needed them the most. After some back and forth, the Blue Jays eventually walked away with a 10-8 victory that breathed a sigh of relief within the Rogers Centre and also made the Texas Ranger Twitter account look a little foolish.
The top of the lineup got the Jays on the board and a three-run Teoscar Hernandez no-doubter to right field in the bottom of the fifth tied the game. The home team would then tack a run on in each of the remaining innings and even after relief pitcher Adam Cimber gave up the solo home run to Adolis Garcia, Jordan Romano was able to close out the ninth and give the Blue Jays their first win of the season.
The Blue Jays’ comeback against the Texas Rangers last night was great to see, as well as seeing Danny Jansen get off to a hot start at the plate.
One player who really impressed yesterday was catcher Danny Jansen. The go-to guy for the Jays behind the plate since late 2018, Jansen has always been known as a solid defender and even found himself nominated for a Gold Glove Award in his first full season in the Major Leagues back in 2019. That was on display last night, as he made some nice blocks behind the plate even with Berrios and his control issues and managed the barrage of relief pitchers that came from the bullpen for the club as well.
The biggest concern for the Illinois product heading into the year was the bat, as he has never posted a batting average above .250 before and his career-best OPS sits at .779, albeit it was his rookie campaign and he only played in 31 games. He did post similar numbers last season (.223 avg and .772 OPS) but that was because of a late resurgence in the year after missing some time on the IL. The catcher position is the one area where teams will sacrifice batting for defensive ability, as having a dependable defensive-minded catcher can be a difficult task in this day and age.
One thing I want to circle back to is the latter half of Jansen’s 2021 campaign. After Jansen’s second stint on the IL, he returned to the team on August 31st and was sporting a .176/.259/.336
slash line and a .595 OPS heading into that particular game. It looked like another season where his bat just wasn’t shaping up to play at the big league level, but then, Jansen exploded over the last month of the season, finishing the last 21 games with eight doubles, six home runs, and a .332 average with a 1.147 OPS.
This was a complete turnaround to what fans were used to seeing from Jansen, and it was good to see the Blue Jays’ catcher look like he had found some rhythm in the batter’s box. Especially with the trade talks surrounding teammate Alejandro Kirk and the impending arrival of prospect Gabriel Moreno at some point this season, having Jansen find his bat will do wonders for a roster that will most likely look to employ Kirk at the DH spot and continue keeping the former 16th round pick in the lineup on a regular basis.
While it is only one game and there is a lot of the season left to go, Jansen’s 2 for 3 performance with a walk and a timely eighth-inning home run to give the Jays some extra insurance last night is a step in the right direction, and will hopefully showcase what is in stock for the Jays everyday catcher in 2022.