The Toronto Blue Jays’ highly-anticipated 2022 season is off with a bang. The home opener on Friday night got off to a shaky start. Jose Berrios didn’t have it, and the offence was seemingly mystified through three innings by Rangers starter Jon Gray. The bullpen kept them in the game, and they came away with a comeback for the ages.
The team followed that up with a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Cavan Biggio started both games at second base, but made way for Santiago Espinal in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
This is a formula that is likely to be utilized throughout the season. Manager Charlie Montoyo seems to have a good idea of when to mix in the two young infielders and they could combine to turn their collective position from a question mark to an exclamation mark!
Blue Jays Espinal, always ready
When Espinal was inserted into the lineup for each game, he delivered big-time. He hit RBI doubles to the gap in both of his initial pinch-hit, plate appearances. He finished both games and provided his usual solid defence.
Although Biggio didn’t get a hit over the first two games, he came up with a sharp play on the field, an area of his game he’s struggled with in the past.
It’s logical for Biggio to get the bulk of the starts against right-handed pitchers and to plug in Espinal, who batted .348 against lefties last season, if a southpaw reliever enters the game. Biggio in about two-thirds of his career plate appearances. actually has a higher batting average against lefties (.245), than when facing right-handers (.231), although 27 of his 31 career home runs and 57 of 77 extra-base hits have come against righties.
Biggio may start more games, but that doesn’t really matter because both players are likely to see at least some action on most nights. Perhaps a better way to measure playing time is the number of at-bats each player accumulates.
Biggio has a more developed power-hitting ability, but Espinal is known as a superior fielder. They both run well, and provide defensive versatility. Montoyo will need to continue to do a good job alternating playing time between them because they’re clearly two integral parts of what could be a championship-level team.