Biggio's patience paying off at leadoff

August 18th, 2020

When made his MLB debut last season, one of the first challenges he faced was finding the balance between patience and aggression.

With an advanced plate approach -- one of the best in the Blue Jays' organization -- Biggio leaned first towards patience. Pitchers catch on quickly in the Majors though, and knowing that Biggio was happy to take some pitches early, they started filling up the zone against him.

Now, in his second season and cemented as the long-term leadoff hitter atop a young Blue Jays lineup, he seems to have found his sweet spot.

“You go through your first year in the big leagues and you learn a lot about yourself, just from the other teams making a lot of adjustments against you throughout the season,” Biggio said. “When I found the most success was when I was the most aggressive. This year, that’s been a big thing for me, to keep that going, being aggressive.”

Biggio isn’t the contact-first speedster that comes to mind when you think of a traditional leadoff hitter, but that role has evolved so much. Biggio will strike out and hit for power, with six home runs already in 2020, which are traits that fall well outside of the traditional definition of a leadoff hitter. But his on-base potential might just be the best on Toronto's roster. Biggio has a .358 on-base percentage over 118 career games, including a .330 mark in 2020.

“As a hitter profile, I get on base a lot. I see a lot of pitches, so that’s usually what you want as a leadoff hitter,” Biggio said. “Moving from second [in the lineup] to first is pretty similar. You’re at the top of the lineup and you want to see pitches and get on base.”

Toronto’s recent power surge at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field showed just how dangerous its lineup can be when it’s clicking. That means power from all nine spots, including the one hole, as there are plenty of hitters capable of pushing 25-plus home runs annually.

Merryweather up for long-awaited debut
The Blue Jays on Tuesday recalled right-hander , who they acquired on Oct. 2, 2018, from Cleveland for '15 American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson.

It’s been a long road for Merryweather, 28, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018 and pitching just six Minor League innings in '19. He’ll slide into a bullpen role for now, where his high-90s velocity should play well, and there’s some legitimate optimism surrounding Merryweather within the organization. He’s expected to begin in a middle relief role, but there’s potential for that to grow, just as it has for right-handers like Jordan Romano and A.J. Cole already this season.

“I see him pitching whenever we need him,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I haven’t seen him pitch that much, honestly, but I know that, according to the reports we get from [the alternate training site], he was pitching really good. He was throwing 97-98 mph on his live fastball.”

In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander to the club’s alternate training site and added him to the taxi squad.

Latest on Bichette
Star shortstop 's second opinion on his sprained right knee from Dr. James Andrews confirmed the original diagnosis, which, all things considered, is good news for the Blue Jays. There is no timeline set for his return, but that should become clearer over the coming days.

filled Bichette's void at shortstop on Tuesday after got the nod on Monday, but the position is expected to lean mostly on matchups until someone gets hot. will also see some time at short.

remains in concussion protocol after a collision at first base on Monday, but he “feels better today,” per Montoyo.

• Closer (right forearm strain) played catch again Tuesday and “feels good.”

(right elbow inflammation) threw a live BP session on Monday and impressed Montoyo. There’s a good chance Thornton could be activated from the 10-day injured list on Thursday for the Blue Jays' doubleheader against the Phillies.

was out of Tuesday's lineup with minor back tightness, but Montoyo indicated that he'd still be available to pinch-hit if needed.