New faces might help inject some life into the Blue Jays lineup

Looking for a jolt of energy for a team that has only scored 61 runs this season, tied for 21st in MLB.
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

After a bumpy 8-8 start to the 2024 campaign, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays 4.0 games back of the AL East leading New York Yankees, recently signed Cuban righty Yariel Rodríguez injected some much needed energy into Rogers Centre on Saturday. He only allowed one run in 3.2 innings, with six strikeouts in an animated MLB debut, one that ended in a 5-3 victory for the good guys.

The Blue Jays are now also 7-0 with a +23 run differential when Davis Schneider starts in left field, with Daulton Varsho shifting over to center field and Kevin Kiermaier on the bench. Their run differential in games Schneider doesn’t start is -41… Kiermaier’s DRS of +1 pales in comparison.

Kiermaier is also off to a dreadful start at the plate, slashing just .154/.214/.179 with a .393 OPS. Despite a grand slam in Saturday’s win, Varsho has an OPS of just .608 and George Springer is at .668; in other words, the entire starting Blue Jays outfield is below league average on OPS.

The fact Schneider has only started seven out of the sixteen games Toronto has played so far may point to analytics more than the eye test: in only 29 at bats, he’s tied for the team lead with 8 RBI, and has an OPS of .850, which trails only Justin Turner’s 1.095.

And that matters for a team that has only scored 61 runs this season, tied for 21st in MLB, with only 14 home runs, tied for 22nd. The team OPS of .681 also ranks 22nd.

Their struggles with runners in scoring position (RISP) continue: Toronto has only one home run with RISP this season, and that came in their 15th game of the season Saturday in the form of Varsho’s grand slam. Their .654 OPS with RISP is 24th, and their only 41 RBI in those situations places them 22nd.

Could more new faces inject some life into this lineup?

In addition to Schneider and Rodríguez, catcher Danny Jansen and high leverage relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson all appear to be nearing their season debuts. That should give both the offence and bullpen a boost, and allow the Jays to field a more productive lineup also capable of locking down close games.

There’s always Joey Votto and top prospects like Orelvis Martinez (No. 3 on our prospect ranking) and Addison Barger (No. 4). Lefty swinging outfielder Will Robertson has 4 homers and 11 RBI at Triple-A with Buffalo, with an OPS of 1.556. Spencer Horwitz also has 10 RBI to go with an OPS of 1.094, while Barger has 13 RBI and an OPS of .893. Martinez has an .898 OPS.

While it may be hard to stomach for some given the Blue Jays are paying Kiermaier, Springer, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Daniel Vogelbach and Daulton Varsho a combined $50.65M to play for them this season, at some point should the Blue Jays consider injecting that younger blood into the lineup?