The Blue Jays offence has been performing better than it seems, but there’s a strong argument that they need another left-handed hitter in the lineup.
I’ll admit that I’ve made a bit of a 180 on this over the last few days, but there’s good reason for it. Just the other day I wrote about why the Blue Jays probably don’t need to/won’t be able to make a good trade to improve their offence, and I still agree with most of what I wrote at the time.
That said, I’ve had the chance to listen to a couple of former MLB pitchers talk about facing various types of lineups, and it’s changed my mind a bit, or at least made me re-think my previous stance anyway. Admittedly, I can’t remember or find the first source that talked about facing a lineup full of righties, and I’ve spent far too much time trying to find it to provide the source and the actual quote. The gist of the idea is that when you face 8-9 straight right-handed batters then you can really lock in on the location of your pitches, which is simple but also makes a lot of sense.
As I was searching for this video clip last night, I laughed as I heard Ricky Romero make similar comments on Friday night’s broadcast. He even went as far as saying, “I loved facing a lineup of all righties”, and went on to talk about how he would focus on his scouting report and his approach, and just try to dial in for the evening.
If the Blue Jays are lining up their hitters based purely on performance and talent, they could have 7-8 in a row from the right side depending on who is starting on a given night. We often see a player like Raimel Tapia hitter higher than it arguably makes sense to pencil him in, but breaking up the same look for opposing pitchers is a big reason why.
To be fair, the Blue Jays have received pretty solid production from guys like Tapia and Cavan Biggio recently. However, it’s hard to justify putting either of them in the top third of the lineup, or even in the top five. In a perfect world the Blue Jays would be able to add the type of hitter that could fit somewhere between George Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk, and Teoscar Hernandez.
Will the Blue Jays’ front office be able to find that kind of bat ahead of the August 2nd deadline? I’m not so sure, and I think we can all agree that improving the starting rotation and the bullpen is a much higher priority right now. That said, I can’t help but think about how underwhelming the Blue Jays offence has been this year compared to what they did in 2021. Most of us entered the year thinking that this group was going to clobber opposing pitchers, and while they haven’t been bad by any means, they’re far from elite. Other than the emergence of Alejandro Kirk and the fact that George Springer has been healthy, you could argue that pretty much every other hitter has taken a step back from last season. I know guys like Vlad Jr., Bichette, Hernandez and more set a high bar in 2021, but still.
I understand that the Jays didn’t really have this kind of left-handed hitter in 2021 either, unless we’re talking about Corey Dickerson, but lately I’ve watched opposing pitchers feasting on the low and way corner of the strike zone and it’s had me thinking about the concept more and more. Then when I hear former big leaguers like Romero talking about the same thing, well, I guess I have to start buying in a bit.
For whatever reason, the Blue Jays just aren’t hitting the ball to the opposite field with as much authority this season. It’s resulted in more balls being rolled over into ground outs, and an increase in strikeouts. Would a left-handed hitter somewhere in the top five of the lineup make that much of a difference? I’m not going to suggest that everything would instantly change for Charlie Montoyo’s lineup card, but baseball is a game of pretty extreme precision in the battle between pitcher and hitter. I’m starting to believe that a subtle thing like this could make a bigger impact than I expected.
We’ll see how Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office approaches the trade deadline, and as I already said, pitching has to be the bigger priority. However, if the right left-handed bat becomes available, perhaps the Blue Jays should pounce on the opportunity. Who could that be? That’s a topic for tomorrow, my friends.