A number of Blue Jays have been slumping lately, but the last few games have really shown some signs of life for a few key players.
The poster boy for that sorta thing lately would be Bo Bichette, who is arguably the hottest hitter on the planet right now after taking the American League Player of the Week honours for last week, and also continuing his hot hitting against the Rays over the last few days. Bichette hadn’t performed up to his usual standards for most of the 2022 campaign, but lately he’s making up for lost time, and has been largely responsible for several of their recent wins.
Looking more specifically at what happened in Tuesday’s double-header, there were definitely some encouraging signs for John Schneider and his coaching staff.
To start with, the Blue Jays received a massive outing from Mitch White as the “bulk guy” in the first game of the twin bill. White had badly struggled over his last few outings, but he gave them exactly what they need with 6.0 innings, allowing just three earned runs on seven hits. The Blue Jays may not have won the game, but they got through it only using White, Julian Merryweather as the opener, and David Phelps for the last two frames to finish the game. Considering White held an 8.16 ERA coming into Tuesday’s 6.0 effective innings, let’s just say it was a huge step in the right direction for the 27 year old.
That was especially important as they looked ahead to the second game of the day, not knowing what they might get from an ailing Alek Manoah. The big righty turned in another gem even as he was feeling under the weather, but White stepping up to the plate in the first game of the day helped him to get there, as the two were supposed to pitch in opposite games according to the game plan they went to bed with the night before. We’ll see if White performed well enough to receive another start before the year is over, but at worst I’m sure he’ll be asked to soak up some innings in a bulk role, and snapping his own cold streak was an important development on Tuesday.
The second player I’d like to highlight is Whit Merrifield, who delivered with a massive two-run pinch hit double in the seventh inning to give the Blue Jays the lead. Merrifield was arguably the highest profile player acquired by the Jays at this year’s deadline, but so far his tenure in Toronto hasn’t gone all that well. Hopefully Tuesday’s clutch hit was enough to get the two-time AL hits leader back on track. *Editor’s note- this paragraph was removed in error earlier, and put back in after publishing.
Third up would be the power drought that’s followed George Springer, who hadn’t hit a home run since August 28th, a span of more than 14 games without a long ball for the 4x All-Star. He ended that power outage on Tuesday night with a blast that put the game back in the Blue Jays’ control.
Key hits like that are among the many reasons that the Blue Jays brought Springer to Toronto, and he’s delivered more often than not when he has managed to stay healthy. Hopefully his key moment on Tuesday evening will be just what he needs to catch fire over the last 20 games of the regular season, and of course into the playoffs.
Last but not least would be Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and while he didn’t end his own streak of games without a home run, he did provide a sharply hit double late in the game that helped seal the win for the Blue Jays. On the weekend Dan Shulman and the Blue Jays’ broadcast crew talked about how the runner up from last year’s AL MVP voting is “close” to finding the stroke that makes him one of the most dangerous hitters in the world, and hopefully he can do just that as they reach the stretch run.
Hot and cold streaks come and go for players of all abilities, but thankfully the Blue Jays are starting to heat up at the right time. Their recent record has been very strong, but if this team can stay healthy and get a few of their struggling hitters going again before the end of the regular season, no one is going to want to face them in the playoffs.