Blue Jays: The Charlie Montoyo critics are quiet so far
We’re only 19 games into the regular season schedule, but so far Charlie Montoyo and the Blue Jays are off to a great start. As a result, critics of the third year bench boss have been pretty quiet so far.
Not only is the 12-7 start to the season encouraging, but the Blue Jays have gotten off on the right foot despite missing some key pieces to their roster. Teoscar Hernandez and Danny Jansen are on the Injured List dealing with oblique injuries, Hyun Jin Ryu with left forearm inflammation, and Cavan Biggio on the Covid-19 IL. They’ve also yet to see Nate Pearson on the big league roster, as he started the season on the IL because of a case of mono.
In addition to the injuries, the Blue Jays have seen a few of their star players get off to a tepid start to the year. That was the case for Biggio before he hit the IL, and it’s largely been the same for Bo Bichette as well, who has yet to find his groove at the plate. They’ve been getting solid contributioins from the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but many of the other regulars have yet to get going.
Despite all of this, the Blue Jays are still finding a way to win at an above-average clip, and doing so while playing some important competition. To begin the year they took two out of three from the Rangers, and then split a four game set with the Yankees. Since then they’ve won two out of three from each of the A’s, Red Sox, and Astros, and they’re up 2-1 in a four-game series with the Red Sox back in Boston. Even if they drop the series finale on Thursday, the Blue Jays will still have yet to lose a series so far in the opening month.
I have to admit that I’m shocked to say this, but I would have to give the largest share of the credit to the bullpen. It’s a group that has been heavily relied upon after a short Spring Training schedule, and some shorter outings from their starters through their first few turns through the rotation have necessitated it, but so far the relief corps have answered the call. Obviously we’ll give a tip of the cap here to the staff itself, and also to pitching coach Pete Walker, but Montoyo is ultimately responsible for the way his relievers are deployed, and so far he’s done an excellent job of using his weapons at the right time.
What we don’t know yet is whether the Blue Jays have leaned too heavily on their bullpen so far, which is what happened after some early success for the relievers in the 2021 season. Hopefully this won’t a repeat of the same scenario, but this time around the Jays have a lot more depth to work with. In a lot of ways it looks like the front office has learned from how last season went down in the bullpen, and they’re better prepared to handle injuries this season.
That will make Montoyo’s job a little easier of course, and so will better health for the hitters that make out the ideal Blue Jays lineup. In the meantime, Montoyo has turned to guys like Zack Collins and to a lesser extent, Santiago Espinal, who have both been key contributors in the early going. Part of that opportunity was born out of necessity, but the skipper has shown plenty of faith in his role players, especially Collins, who has routinely hit fourth or fifth in the lineup lately to help break up the righties.
It’s way too early to make a definitive statement about Montoyo’s work, but I will say that it’s been so far so good, especially when you step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s hard not to get excited about what the Blue Jays can do once they get their roster healthy and together again, and also against weaker competition. At a time that things could certainly be going a lot worse, Montoyo and the Jays are more than holding their own.