Blue Jays have options to cover a Teoscar Hernandez absence

Apr 13, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez (37) reacts after injuring himself on a swing in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez (37) reacts after injuring himself on a swing in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /
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Blue Jays
Apr 9, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Raimel Tapia (15) hits a single on a fielder’s choice against the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The most obvious choice

It’s unfortunate that the Blue Jays are already dealing with two significant injuries, especially because we’re only six games into the 2022 campaign. However, it’s even more unfortunate because they had potential replacements in Randal Grichuk and Reese McGuire on the roster earlier this year. Not that they would have been perfect solutions, but in some ways I can’t blame Jays fans for wishing they were still around.

Speaking of Grichuk, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a different type of outfielder, and that’s Raimel Tapia. My assumption is that he’ll be first up to see regular starts, as he was already being mixed into the fold prior to Hernandez’s injury. He started the majority of the time for the Rockies last year, and he’s capable of playing all three outfield positions.

The biggest difference between Tapia and Hernandez is the total lack of power from the former, relying instead on a mix of contact and speed to try and get the job done. His left-handed bat brings a welcome mix to the lineup as well, although it would help if it was a little more potent.

Last season Tapia slashed .273/.327/.372 over 133 games, picking up six home runs and 26 doubles along the way. If there’s an advantage to his game over Hernandez’s, it’s the speed he brings to the table, as he swiped 20 bags in the National League last year. He’s obviously not the type of hitter that’s going to step into Hernandez’s clean-up role in the order, but that doesn’t mean he can’t find a way to contribute from the bottom third of the lineup.

If nothing else, if Hernandez does end up on the IL it will give the Blue Jays a better chance to see what they have in Tapia. Worst case he’s a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner, and the hope is that he’s close to a best case scenario, which is a player capable of starting and contributing every day. My guess is we’re about to find out.

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