Over the course of the season here at Yahoo Sports Canada, we’ll be checking in with the Blue Jays’ on-field tactics under the guidance of Charlie Montoyo on a weekly basis.
This is the second installment.
Charlie Montoyo’s managing style came into focus a little bit more this week as the Blue Jays started to get things going with the bats, scoring 27 runs in five games in the direct wake of putting up just six in an ugly four-game set with Cleveland.
The Blue Jays got the running game going, blew leads, made comebacks, and overall played a more exciting brand of baseball, that was probably more in line with what Montoyo envisioned at the beginning of the season.
Off the field, he had two unique experiences, first facing his Puerto Rican countryman Alex Cora in Boston and then facing his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, over the weekend.
The Rays even spiced things up by dumping a gift package of team gear in his office prior to Friday night’s game.
“When I got into the clubhouse I had all these presents,” Montoyo said with a laugh, showing off a collection of jerseys and bobbleheads to the assembled writers in their pregame meeting. “You guys can have it.”
It’s fair to say all of that made it a more eventful stretch than a 2-3 record would indicate.
Here’s a gumbo of facts, figures, and quotes to help us sort out the Blue Jays’ skipper’s week:
Lineups: Once again, Montoyo’s lineups were completely scattershot, making it clear that stability is not something he values when he’s writing out his card. Here are the lineups the Blue Jays trotted out:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 9, 2019
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 11, 2019
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 12, 2019
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 13, 2019
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 14, 2019
You’ve got some common threads here to be certain. The red-hot Freddy Galvis has tended to be at the top. Billy McKinney, one of the few Blue Jays showing much patience at the moment makes sense there too, even if the results aren’t there yet.
If you were up for nitpicking you could have qualms with Alen Hanson hitting in front of Luke Maile or Gurriel Jr. being buried on Tuesday. Realistically, Montoyo doesn’t know what he can rely on from most of these hitters.
You can disagree with the constant shuffling as a philosophy, but none of the results have been too outlandish.
Pinch Hitters: Three.
Every pinch hitter Montoyo called on struck out, but all of the decisions were sound. Rowdy Tellez came on for Gurriel Jr. against right-handed fireballer Diego Castillo, Danny Jansen faced nasty lefty Jose Alvarado for McKinney and Teoscar Hernandez took over for Tellez with the bases loaded against southpaw Adam Kolarek.
None of those decisions were hard to justify, but none of them worked out. That’s managing for ya.
Pinch Runners: The Blue Jays still have yet to use a pinch runner, which seems a bit odd considering the speed and position versatility of Hanson off the bench. It’s a tougher move to justify now that Urena is down and there are only three extra position players on any given day.
Sacrifice Bunts: One.
Richard Urena stuck with a bunt on Tuesday with runners on first and second with none out, despite failing to get it down on the first two tries. It worked out in the sense that the Blue Jays scored two runs immediately afterwards on a passed ball and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. steal of home.
It was a bit questionable in the sense that Urena was setting up Alen Hanson and Billy McKinney to face Chris Sale. Urena probably didn’t have much chance either, but you’d prefer to see a bunt set up more reliable options than Hanson and McKinney versus a southpaw.
Intentional Walks: Two.
Montoyo deployed the perfect IBB on Thursday in the ninth with one out and a man on second with that player representing the winning run. The runner on first meant literally nothing and the double play came into play. It didn’t work as the Blue Jays got walked off, but it was an excellent call.
On Saturday he put a man on first in a bit of a more controversial situation, putting Auston Meadows on with a runner at third and two outs. Ultimately the Blue Jays got out of the innings thanks to strikeouts from Joe Biagini and Tim Mayza, but that’s a tough call — one that even Montoyo had his doubts about.
“I walked my first go-ahead run to first base today, I said ‘oooh here we go.’” he said. “It worked out, the guy was hot and it was a great job by our bullpen.”
Starter Strategy: By and large, you can throw out pitch count numbers here because Trent Thornton got shelled and the Blue Jays were being very cautious with Clay Buchholz.
Misc: Replay became a major topic on Friday when Montoyo didn’t challenge a play at third base where Freddy Galvis was called out to end the team’s 6-run seventh inning.
According to Montoyo, he was told not to make the challenge, which looks like it would have been successful, but he took responsibility for not going for it anyway.
“Our process said no, but I should have just f---ing challenged it. At the end of the of the day I f---ed up. It’s on me.”
In a very Charlie Montoyo kind of way he added:
“Sorry about all the f-bombs. I kind of like ‘em.”
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