Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Q: When is an injury to a superstar baseball player in the thick of a playoff race potentially a good thing?
A: When, upon his return, it gives the Toronto Blue Jays a perfect excuse to pin Justin Smoak’s strikin’-ass-out ass to the bench and play their best offensive and defensive alignments.
Not that you didn’t notice — painfully… and repeatedly — but Justin Smoak has been fucking terrible for a while now. Believe it or not, he actually posted a 113 wRC+ in the month of July, but even that hasn’t been enough to save him from letting his season numbers slide down the side of the bowl and deep into the toilet, staining everything they cross with streaks of shit. (Y’know, to put it as elegantly as possible.)
Since the All-Star break his wRC+ is a fugly, Goins-esque 66, and he’s struck out in more than 50% of his 35 August plate appearances. Over that span his wRC+ has been a pitiful 6! Six!
He’s maybe not as much of a disaster as some fans seem to want to believe, but at some point it doesn’t really matter how far apart the perception and the reality are — and that point is when the reality is a DH who can’t seem to hit the goddamned ball!
Part of the problem, of course, is that he’s a bit exposed at the moment. He’s playing too much. He’s not getting favourable matchups. Because, the thing is, Smoak really should only be a part-time player — and that is, indeed, what the Jays are paying him for. And now he will be again! Or at least soon…
For those of you who missed the title of this post, that’s because Jose Bautista’s knee is doing well enough for him to play, and he is set to be activated from the DL on Thursday. And, more importantly, according to a tweet from Alykhan Ravjiani, John Gibbons says he’ll be spending a bunch of time at DH.
Not that Melvin Upton has been a whole lot better since he’s joined the Jays (a 54 wRC+), but if you’re only going to have room for one of Upton or Smoak (or Ezequiel Carrera, who I like to call “Zeke”) in the lineup, you at least want the one who keeps Bautista the hell away from right field.
So… good news!
(I should probably also add that it’s good news made possible by the fact that Kevin Pillar is also healthy — he’s been activated for tonight’s game, with Ryan Tepera being optioned to Buffalo to clear room.)