It’s May 23rd, and the Blue Jays are underperforming. Thankfully, this group is talented enough that their version of underperforming is still a 22-19 record. The pitching has held up their end, meanwhile the offence has scuffled mightily. This has prompted a few lineup alterations from Charlie Montoyo, but none as drastic as what we’ll see tonight.
In this writer’s humblest opinion, this is the best configuration possible, and was even mentioned in an article last week from your friends at Jays Journal. Santiago Espinal will be counted on to produce in the two-spot while Bo Bichette will be set up to drive in runs from the cleanup spot. This in turn bumps Teoscar down a spot.
Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed. That is certainly the case with tonights lineup, but do the statistics put up by these hitters actually justify their new lineup spots?
Espinal will be hitting second tonight, a spot in which typically finds itself in high leverage situations throughout ball games. Currently leading the club in bWAR amongst position players, Santi is the ideal two-hitter for a lineup looking to breakout. He provides the ability to both get on base, and contribute to rallies. His .347 OBP is tied for first on the club, while also contributing 15 RBI from mostly hitting towards the bottom of the lineup.
The Blue Jays have been struggling for the larger portion of the season. Tonight, Montoyo has made a big change involving a key player.
Bo Bichette and the cleanup spot are a match made in heaven. The young shortstop has both experience and success hitting fourth. Towards the latter parts of last season, he slid down to that spot in the order, finishing the season with a 121 OPS+. Bo has also been hot as of late. After a rough start to 2022, in May he has gone on to hit to a .280 average, while posting an OPS of .853. Bichette also single handedly won the Jays the game this past Saturday after clubbing two homeruns.
While this lineup change accommodates the Blue Jays better hitters at the moment, it also helps out those who are struggling. Teoscar Hernandez has struggled since his return from the IL. Moving him down a spot, where he spent 63 games last season, might give him a better shot to regain his timing at the plate. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also benefits from the shift downwards, as he did most of his damage last year from the sixth and seventh spots.
All in all, the Jays are looking for a breakout. The teams pitching, paired with an offence playing at least close to it’s potential, will make for a borderline unstoppable force. This offence shakeup will work towards that breakout.