The first 21 games of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ 2021 season have been a mixed bag.
While the breakout of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the fourth-best team ERA in baseball have helped the Blue Jays to their 10-11 record, some holes are starting to show up.
Fortunately, it’s early, and with a few adjustments, the Blue Jays can get right back into the hunt for the AL East crown. Here are three things that the team can change to pull themselves back into the race.
The infield defence
Who would have thought that Vladdy would be the most solid defender on the Blue Jays infield this season?
Indeed, while Guerrero Jr. is finally looking comfortable at first, Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette have struggled defensively. The pair have 12 errors between them already this season.
The lineup that Charlie Montoyo sent out for the team’s rubber match against the Rays last Sunday afternoon reflected the situation. Santiago Espinal got the start at third, and Marcus Semien slid over to shortstop, with Joe Panik handling duties at second. Bichette DH’d and Biggio was sent to right field.
While by no means is this lineup permanent, it is telling that Montoyo has deemed it necessary to send out such an alignment. However, as soon as George Springer makes his much-anticipated Blue Jay debut, the outfield will be too crowded to give Biggio these reprieves. Something’s got to give.
Biggio’s situation differs a little from Bichette’s. While shortstop is the only position Bo has known over the course of his big league career, Biggio has only made 24 career starts at third. Just like how Guerrero Jr. needed time at first to learn the nuance of the position, Biggio still needs reps at the hot corner.
For Bichette, it feels more mental. He rarely misses a ball. His issues have come with the transfer from glove to hand, and with the throw over to first. While rumours have swirled about a potential position swap with Semien (who has 777 career starts at shortstop), can the Blue Jays really afford to deal with the steep learning curve that would face Bichette if he moved to second?
The easiest possible remedy to make this problem go away is simply improved play from Biggio and Bichette. While it is most definitely possible, the Jays can’t afford to wait much longer.