Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: The value of an incredibly deep lineup

Jun 15, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27, red gloves) celebrates with team mates after driving in the winning run against the Baltimore Orioles in the tenth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27, red gloves) celebrates with team mates after driving in the winning run against the Baltimore Orioles in the tenth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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It may have seemed strange to see the Orioles pitch to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in extra-innings on Wednesday night, but there must have been a reason for it.

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t believe that the Orioles elected to pitch to arguably one of the best hitters in the world, even if he hasn’t had the greatest season so far in 2022. As for when Vlad Jr. strolled to the plate in the 10th, the Orioles should have known better by then, as the 23 year old slugger was already 3-4 on the evening.

My guess is the Orioles decided to take their chances rather than face Alejandro Kirk, which is somewhat logical I suppose. Kirk has authored a slash line of .392/.466/.706 over his last 15 games, and has been one of the hottest hitters in the American League. Still, walking Guerrero Jr. would have set up a double play situation, as the inning started with Bo Bichette on second, and no force play for the infield to work with either. Admittedly, that makes the Orioles’ decision all the more confusing to me.

All that said, I think it speaks to a bigger thing going on with the Blue Jays these days, and that’s the length in their lineup that has to be putting some fear into opposing pitching staffs. They’ve scored 40 runs over their last six games against the Tigers and Orioles, and the attack is becoming more balanced all the time as the majority of their hitters have been heating up lately.

We’re seeing a significant difference from the performance earlier in the year from guys like Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Matt Chapman. Cavan Biggio looked lost early this season, and suddenly he looks like his old self as he jumps in and out of the lineup in more of a utility role. Santiago Espinal continues to outperform the high end of my expectations for him this year, and George Springer is quietly putting together an All-Star worthy campaign. And then of course there’s Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, each showing more life in their bats lately, and representing two of the most dangerous weapons of the whole group.

When things are going well the Blue Jays have a bit of an embarrassment of riches on offence. They’ve also added a consensus top-five prospect to the lineup recently, who already looks like he belongs, and it won’t be too long before Danny Jansen is close to a return to the active roster as well. All of that, and the rumoured need for a left-handed bat to balance things out continues, although even Raimel Tapia has been swinging the stick well lately too.

We can ask why the Orioles chose to pitch to Guerrero Jr. on Wednesday night (I still think it was bonkers given the circumstances), but the reality is they would have had the pleasure of very strong protection in the order with Kirk, Hernandez, and Espinal as the next three due up. The conclusion of Thursday’s game might have been inevitable regardless of what they chose to do as they faced the meat of the order, but something tells me there will be a different strategy if the same situation comes up again.

dark. Next. Chappy is starting to heat up

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, there’s not much as far as weak spots in the order, regardless of how many batters you want to pitch around.

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