The Toronto Blue Jays have a 4-8 record in the month of August and are barely holding on to a wild-card spot. So interim manager John Schneider is shaking up his batting order for Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.
The most notable move involves shortstop Bo Bichette, who is in the seventh hole and will start a game hitting in the bottom third of the lineup for the first time in his career. Bichette has been marred in a bit of a slump lately, with just three hits and one walk in his last four games. Two of those hits were home runs, both of which came in a game on Aug. 9 against these same Orioles. For the season, Bichette has a career-low .260 batting average but is second on the team with 64 RBI.
Teoscar Hernandez is also seeing a demotion in the lineup, hitting sixth on Tuesday. Like Bichette, it’s the lowest spot in the lineup he’s started a game at this season. The two-time Silver Slugger has also struggled in the past week, with just two hits in five games — a double and a home run. Hernandez has 17 home runs this season — tied with Bichette — and is hitting .268/.321/.493 in 90 games.
Third-baseman Matt Chapman will hit in the fifth hole Tuesday, just the 18th time this season he’s started that high in the lineup.
“Really just shaking things up and giving guys different looks and seeing how it shakes out,” Schneider said of his new lineup before the game, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “Nothing in particular to it.”
Red flags have been raised by fans and media following recent short starts by Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Berrios, with some questioning whether the team has enough pitching depth to compete in the AL. But Schneider told reporters after Monday’s loss that the team also needs the offence to bring more to the table. The team has been outscored 41-58 in August entering Tuesday and the new batting order suggests Schneider is trying to find ways to outscore its present pitching concerns.
“We have to do more of that going forward and put more runs on the board and not have guys pitching down by four when they should be up by two,” Schneider said. “That’s basically what it is. We’ve got to take care of the ball. We’ve got to score more runs and put guys in the right spots.”
Ace Alek Manoah will be on the hill for Tuesday’s game at the Rogers Centre, while the Orioles will counter with right-hander Dean Kremer. You can watch the game on Sportsnet and SN NOW beginning at 7:07 p.m. ET.