The Toronto Blue Jays extended their winning streak to six games with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays where Charlie Monyoto made questionable decisions.
In his second year as Toronto Blue Jays manager, Charlie Montoyo has been drawing more criticism for some of the decisions he has made and when you see the results of those choices, it’s easy to understand why.
Sure, winning a sixth straight game over the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays is an impressive accomplishment for this team. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason to nitpick at things that could have made the game go smoother.
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The first came before the team even took the field as Cavan Biggio batted eighth, Danny Jansen moving up to third and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hitting leadoff. This was an intentional decision as Montoyo explained after the game saying that Ryan Yarbrough presented a matchup that forced some radical ideas.
"“It’s all about Yarbrough,” Montoyo explained to reporters. “He’s been dealing against us since last year, so it’s all about making a lineup that can battle against him. You’ve seen it. Every time he goes out he just pitches great against us, so it was all about not my players, but the best lineup that can beat Yarbrough. That’s why it looks so different.”"
Montoyo was not wrong about Yarborough giving the Blue Jays batter problems owning a 6-1 record with a 2.00 ERA in 11 games. Sure, this might give any manager some cause for concern but to make the drastic changes Montoyo did was confusing.
For starters, the reason why your best hitters hit higher up in the lineup is to make sure you maximize the number of at-bats they receive especially late in the game. In this one, the Blue Jays needed extra innings and could have ran into the chance that Biggio wouldn’t make it there which is inexcusable considering how he has performed this season.
If you look past the lineup, Montoyo should also be questioned on his decision to pull Matt Shoemaker after he threw just 74 pitches was a baffling one. At the time he was pulled, Shoemaker had retired 13 of his last 14 batters and was commanding the strike zone pretty well.
As good as Ryan Borucki has been this season, this is the opening game of the series at a time where your team doesn’t have the luxury of off-days. It might not be the greatest idea to tax your bullpen when it wasn’t necessary.
Borucki would end up walking Brandon Lowe then a few batters later, the 4-2 lead turned into a 4-4 deadlock. Fortunately, Rafael Dolis was able to get things back on track but it also means using a high leverage arm in a situation that should have probably been avoided.
"“It’s all about winning games, man, you know what I’m saying?” Montoyo told Sportsnet about his decision to pull Shoemaker. “And yes, we are thin (in the bullpen), we were thin today, and we’re playing every day, we’re going to be thin almost every day. Of course (Saturday), Ryu is going to be (needed) even longer. But we mapped it out the way it worked out, it just happened that Borucki wasn’t as good today."
Now in fairness to Montoyo, Borucki had an off inning which probably wasn’t part of the plan but he even admits that the bullpen is thin and still elected to go with that decision. Now Hyun-Jin Ryu will have to probably go deep into the game Saturday which shouldn’t be tough for him hopefully.
As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi mentions, Blue Jays starters have worked only 101.2 of the club’s 212 innings and really have been fortunate to have some starting pitchers able to give them a couple of innings of relief at a time. At what point will Montoyo have to realize that his starting rotation needs to pitch deeper into games and he can’t have the desire to yank them as early as he has been.
The next few games will say a lot about Montoyo’s decisions but considering how many games have been lost because of some tough calls made at inopportune times, you wonder if the Blue Jays could have been in a more advantageous position in the standings.
What did you think about Montoyo’s decisions going up against the Rays? Is the criticism warranted? Let us know in the comments below.