The Blue Jays offence has been floundering lately and could use a shake up in general, but George Springer’s injury on Friday may force one. If I’m Charlie Montoyo, one of the first things I would do is move Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up in the order.
You could have made a strong argument in favour of a tweak to the lineup before Friday’s series opener with the Rays, but after Springer left with what’s being reported as a sprained left ankle, there’s going to be some changes at the top of the order regardless.
Instead of asking Raimel Tapia to collect more at-bats than any other hitter in the lineup, I really think the Blue Jays should shift Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. one spot up in the order each for the time being. I realize that neither of the young stars are hitting to their potential right now either, but you could say the same for pretty much everybody swinging a bat for the Blue Jays these days.
In theory this shouldn’t change all that much for Guerrero Jr., other than the potential for Springer to be on base when he comes to the plate, and it’s a minor adjustment for Bichette to lead off in the first inning of a game. While it’s not a significant change, there are two things I like about it.
One, Bichette may be forced to be a little more selective at the plate, which is something we saw him do well on Friday when battled back for a walk against Drew Rasmussen. Bichette’s style is a very aggressive one, and I would never advocate for trying to change that about him, but to my untrained eyes it feels like he’s been overdoing that aggression a bit so far this season. Even just a bit more balance could do wonders for his game, even if it’s just helping him avoid falling behind in the count so consistently.
I also realize that it wasn’t very long ago that I wrote that the Blue Jays should leave Bo Bichette in the two-spot, and I still don’t mind the idea of him there even if he hasn’t found his groove at the plate just yet. For now, I don’t think the Blue Jays have much choice other than to slot him in at the top, at least until Springer is healthy and able to return.
The second part that I like about moving them up is that it will force Guerrero Jr. into the two-hole, where he arguably belongs. It seems that Vlad Jr. is most comfortable hitting third, but out of desperation breeds the need for adjustments, and I’m sure the young star will be more than understanding.
Where someone hits in the lineup shouldn’t have much to do with their performance, but sometimes a small change of circumstances can get a talented player going. In this case, I’m hoping that Vlad Jr. can find a way to start performing a little more like the star that we all know is, and one that the Blue Jays could badly use right about now. It could also get him used to the idea of hitting second in the lineup, and by the time Springer is able to return that could come in very handy. We have no idea how much time Springer will miss with his latest injury, but hopefully it won’t be an extended absence.
Regardless, the struggling Blue Jays offence really didn’t need the blow of losing Springer on Friday night. If they’re going to pull themselves out of their current slide, and their losing streak, they’re going to need more production from the star players that are healthy and available, and they’re going to need to tweak the batting order too. Here’s hoping it can jumpstart things somehow, because lately it hasn’t been pretty.