The Blue Jays are coming off a tough loss to close out their series in Cleveland, but back-to-back series wins have taken away some of the sting of last week’s six-game skid.
As the Blue Jays relocate to Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, which they’ll call home for the summer as they work to eventually return to Toronto, here are the questions you had on your mind:
How realistic are Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s MVP chances? What about Charlie Montoyo for Manager of the Year or Hyun Jin Ryu for the Cy Young Award?
-- Michael O.
At 3.1 WAR, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads baseball, and he sits at or near the top of the league in most offensive categories. If the season ended today, he'd be getting MVP votes, period. He’s even had some value on the bases, so as long as he continues to make the odd highlight-reel play at first base, it will be difficult for voters to poke holes in his value if his numbers at the plate keep this pace.
Montoyo’s case for Manager of the Year will be closely tied to the team’s performance, of course, so the spotlight of playing competitive baseball down the stretch or securing a playoff spot can only help. Ryu might be on the outside looking in right now, but he’s so consistent. If he carries this 2.62 ERA over 180-plus innings, he’ll find his way into the top-five in voting again.
In the spirit of Alek Manoah’s promotion to the Major Leagues, what is the chance we see another youngster make the jump this season, whether that be Austin Martin or Jordan Groshans to maybe corral third base? Or are the Jays done with starting more prospects' service clocks this season?
-- James T.
In the right situation, the Blue Jays will start a prospect’s clock if he can help the Major League club. Nick Allgeyer’s recent addition to the 40-man roster is an example of that, even though the No. 30 prospect didn’t get into a game. The stakes get a little higher if you’re talking about a Top-10 prospect in the system, of course, but at this point in their competitive arc, the Blue Jays need to be concerned about winning today and tomorrow, not three years from now.
Austin Martin (No. 2) and Jordan Groshans (No. 3) still make more sense at some point in 2022, unless one really forces the issue, which isn’t happening yet in Double-A. If there’s one position on the field that the Blue Jays could address at the Trade Deadline, it’s third base, which would allow Cavan Biggio to slide into a super-utility role for which he’s well suited.
Who is the next prospect to make his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays? Will it be Nick Allgeyer or someone else?
Allgeyer is a good bet based on his 40-man spot. Beyond him, No. 17 prospect Joey Murray is off to a good start at Triple-A and could be a rotation depth option at some point, while No. 4 prospect Simeon Woods Richardson, still just 20 years old, could be on the fringes of that conversation by the end of the summer. Keep an eye on No. 28 prospect Kevin Smith, too. He had a breakout season in 2018 but came back to earth in 2019 at Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. He’s not hitting for average so far in Triple-A, but he has power and is an above-average fielder. There won’t be much hype around him, but he has the tools to get to the big leagues.
If you could put a percentage on it, what are chances of George Springer and Thomas Hatch returning to the team before the All-Star break?
In Hatch’s case, give me 85 percent to account for health. He’s getting some extra days off prior to his second start in Triple-A, but as long as the right-hander is able to get back to his full workload and full health, he should have every opportunity to pitch his way back onto the roster. Hatch is underrated and could be a legitimate piece of the rotation.
In Springer’s case, it would be a surprise and major disappointment if he’s not back before the All-Star Game on July 13. That’s six weeks down the road, and the Blue Jays continue to tell us that Springer is feeling good and improving as he rehabs from another right quad strain. That being said, it will be very difficult to put much of a timeline on the star outfielder until he’s sprinting and running the bases. Stay tuned.
Do you see the Jays going after a big name starting pitcher this summer with Manoah, Woods-Richardson and Nate Pearson in the system, and guys like Robbie Ray and Steven Matz pitching OK?
Yes. The Blue Jays have prospects with upside and veteran arms who could, potentially, pitch as that No. 3 in a playoff series, but who’s the No. 2 behind Hyun Jin Ryu? Maybe a Manoah or Pearson emerges as that, but teams with legitimate postseason aspirations don’t lean on hope. Another top-end starter has to be the top priority, and I expect it to be.
Thoughts on Pearson? What is up with him?
Pearson is a fine example of how prospect development isn’t always linear. Manoah Mania has overshadowed him, but Pearson is still the No. 10 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
In the simplest terms, there seem to be too many moving parts right now. When Pearson has dominated in the past, he does it simply by repeating his delivery and missing bats. Recently, that delivery hasn’t been quite as consistent, and pros can still handle 100 mph if it’s not spotted.
What's the latest information on the Jays going back to Canada? Playoffs, maybe, if they make it?
The latest is that the Blue Jays will do everything they can to return as quickly and safely as possible, but it’s not all up to them. Many have pointed to the NHL allowing some fans back into buildings in Canada, which happened in Montreal on Saturday night, but that doesn’t involve a team crossing the Canada-US border.
Keep an eye on case numbers, vaccination rates and any loosened restrictions for public gatherings. But above all else, the border is the major factor here. This answer, unfortunately, will be “TBD” for a while longer.