During the 2023 offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays’ management made it a priority to add left-handed batters to the starting lineup to help balance the right-handed heavy lineup they have had for the past couple of years. In doing so, it should help create better matchups against their opponents’ pitchers, as well as for many other in-game situations.
Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brandon Belt were all key acquisitions or signings by the Jays to help address this need, as Cavan Biggio had been the only lefty bat on the roster heading into the 2023 season. So with the three new additions, it appears as though the balance and makeup of the Jays’ lineup should be that much more effective this year.
However, both Varsho and Belt struggled mightily out of the gate at the beginning of the year, but luckily Kiermaier provided some unexpected offensive output to help power the Jays for much of the first couple of months of the season.
As Varsho and Belt began to turn it around and ramped up their production at the plate, Kiermaier would himself endure in a long slump, in particular following a minor injury resulting from a couple outfield throws in late May. So at least in each instance, there was some lefty bats stepping it up to make up for the others to help maintain the balance and effectiveness.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, all of the Jays’ lefty bats have been struggling altogether, putting the Jays at a bind as they head towards the stretch run for the playoffs. Taking a look at the stats since June 14th up until July 19th, while adding in Biggio in the mix as well, it hasn’t been impressive.
(From June 14 to July 19)
The run production definitely has been lacking, with the four them combining to score only 29 runs and tallying 21 RBI in over 250 at-bats, but the more worrisome trend is that both Varsho and Belt are starting to strike out at an alarming rate once again, especially Varsho. Both players were counted upon heavily by the Jays to help make up for some of the lost run production due to the departures of Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but they have been slumping again after a short-lived hot streak from May to June.
If the current trend by the Jays’ lefties continue, it could be a huge area of concern in their pursuit of the playoffs, as any lefty-righty matchup they intend to use to their advantage would be negated by the ineffectiveness of their batters coming through with run production in those matchups. One way to resolve it is if a righthanded batter is providing more production regardless if they were facing a lefthanded or righthanded pitcher, they should get more usage in the lineup to maximize the club's offensive potential.
Nevertheless, the Jays' lefties certainly need to step up their game soon. Otherwise, it should be something that Jays’ management should keep in mind and closely monitor as they head towards the trade deadline, as it may be an area that needs addressing once again, before it is too late.