Blue Jays: Nathan Lukes on the comeback trail, hits first Triple-A home run of 2023
By Eric Treuden
Making the Opening Day roster for the Toronto Blue Jays was obviously the peak of Nathan Lukes' professional career. After grinding away in the minor leagues for seven years without reaching The Show, he rode a nice spring showing to the promised land.
Unfortunately, his first stint in the big leagues lasted only a few days. The 28-year-old made it into three games for the Blue Jays, all three as a pinch runner. He never had a single at-bat or appearance in the field while in the majors.
Prior to the series against the Angels in which the Halos were set to trot out three consecutive left-handed starters, Lukes was optioned down to Triple-A Buffalo in favor of Jordan Luplow, who has done well against southpaws in the past and swings it from the right side.
Luplow's first bit of action for the Jays was about as exciting as Lukes', as he struck out two times in three at-bats in his debut with the club.
Lukes on the other hand, has taken his demotion to the minor leagues in stride. He has only played in three games for the Buffalo Bisons, but he is making the most of them: going five-for-12 (good for a .417 average) with a double, four RBI and as of last night; his first home run.
That one got out of there in a hurry, which is encouraging to see. Lukes has never been a huge home run hitter, but the Blue Jays don't need him to be. Instead, he brings value by providing above-average defense at all three outfield spots, getting on base, and stealing his fair share of bases.
In essentially every way, Lukes is a better outfield option than Luplow is, and he should be back up to the big leagues in no time. However, it's nice to see him get consistent playing time down in Triple-A, something he surely had not been getting while being blocked by Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer in the big leagues.