Schneider (3 RBIs) provides much-needed spark to lineup

August 26th, 2023

TORONTO -- Perhaps the answer was sitting on the Blue Jays’ bench all week, wearing a mustache, glasses and a pair of crisp, white Air Monarch dad shoes.

hadn’t seen the field in a full week, going back to last Saturday in Cincinnati. Toronto’s newest folk hero homered in that game, too, but this week’s performance was undeniable.

Schneider went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and a walk in Saturday afternoon’s 8-3 win over the Guardians at Rogers Centre, stuffing the box score with a jolt of life that the Blue Jays’ underwhelming offense desperately needed.

When this Blue Jays team has hit turbulence recently, manager John Schneider has rightfully pointed to a clubhouse full of players who have been there and done that before. Davis Schneider doesn’t bring that experience, but he’s here right now and producing right now.

“That’s more of what he has been doing,” John Schneider said. "Controlling the zone, doing damage. It’s a huge spot. They scored in the first, then Bo [Bichette] hit his single and we came back with a two-run homer. That’s kind of what we’ve been missing.”

The win keeps the Blue Jays pacing with the Astros, who hold a one-game lead on Toronto for the final AL Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays hold the tiebreaker over the Astros, who play the Tigers Saturday evening, giving them a small advantage in this tight race down the stretch.

The tone has shifted around this team recently. Bichette called for his teammates to be "fearless" when he returned last week in Cincinnati. Kevin Gausman recently called for a sense of "urgency." John Schneider’s tone has grown more direct, too.

“We can talk about it all we want, but we have to go do it,” the skipper said prior to the game. “There was a conversation with the guys yesterday, talking with them in the hitters' meeting. They’re well aware of it. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. I’ve said it all along that you can’t try harder. You can’t do things you’re not good at, but there’s a lot of things these guys are good at, so they’ve just got to go do that.”

With each of these quotes, John Schneider is describing Davis Schneider.

“He’s been very effective for our team,” starter Hyun Jin Ryu said through a club interpreter, throwing his support behind the rookie. “Ever since his first game when he got called up, his offense, defense, even his baserunning, everything he’s doing is going well for the team.”

In a roundabout way, Schneider’s unique ascent through the Minor Leagues prepared him for games like this. Schneider was drafted in 2017, but didn’t show up on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Prospects list for Toronto until this season, six years later. Currently, Schneider is ranked 13th in the Blue Jays' system.

For years, Schneider was the lovable utility guy who stepped to the side when higher-priority prospects needed playing time at his positions. Three or four days out of the lineup -- or a week -- isn’t new to him.

“You’re not used to it, but you know what to expect going in,” Schneider said. “The way you feel, the way your body feels when you haven’t seen many pitches. I’m kind of used to it. I always wish I was playing, but that’s just the way it is sometimes.”

John Schneider and the Blue Jays now face a 32-game race to the postseason, and they’re climbing uphill. Having their next 13 games against weak opponents with losing records is a fine place to start, but the equations start to change when it comes to daily lineup construction. While Schneider and the Blue Jays love to trust track records, it’s “what have you done for me lately” time and Davis Schneider has done plenty.

Whit Merrifield factors into this discussion on days he plays the infield and the Blue Jays still want to find opportunities for Cavan Biggio, but it can only benefit the lineup from this point on to find more opportunities for Schneider. For a team that entered Saturday ranked 18th in MLB with 150 home runs, which is well below expectations, what Davis Schneider offers from a power perspective alone is enough to change this team’s trajectory.

For Sunday, at least, there’s no mystery.

When John Schneider was asked Saturday if Davis Schneider would crack the lineup the next day, he cracked a smile, jumping in before the question even ended.