Navigating Bo Bichette’s injury obviously isn’t going to be easy for the Blue Jays.
Bichette, as of right now, is the team’s best player, and, just as he was starting to really get heated up at the plate, the team’s offence finally broke out largely because of him.
Charlie Montoyo spoke on Monday about how he’s going to handle the shortstop position in Bo’s absence, suggesting that he’ll roll with a combination of Brandon Drury, Joe Panik, and Santiago Espinal at the position.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) August 17, 2020
There isn’t really anybody down at the Alternate Training Site who can step in and fill Bo’s shoes. I mean, I’m sure we’d all love to see a top prospect like Jordan Groshans or Austin Martin get a crack to see what they can do in this weirdo season, but there’s obviously no way the Blue Jays will start either top prospect’s service time right now.
Apparently, they’re both on the team’s radar, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
So, here we are, with Espinal, Drury, and Panik. At this stage, I don’t know why you wouldn’t just give Espinal, a young guy who might have a future with the club long-term, a look every day.
Panik was brought in to be a veteran on the team, similar to what Eric Sogard was last year. The thing with Panik, though, is that he isn’t actually really a shortstop. He had played pretty much exclusively second base in his big-league career before this season, where he’s seen time at both third and short.
There isn’t really much of a sample size to draw any meaningful statistics from Panik’s time at short, but the eye-test indicates that he’s, well, not a shortstop.
And then there’s Drury, who’s a better option defensively than Panik (which isn’t saying that much), but has shown a noodle for a bat thus far. Through 28 plate appearances, Drury has just three hits, and all of them are singles. He’s managed to be worth -0.5 wins above replacement, which is a pretty incredible feat in such a short amount of time.
At this point, Drury kind of is what he is, right? He’s slashed a .205/.255/.349 line between New York and Toronto over the past three seasons, which is far removed from the .271/.319/.448 line he put together in his three previous seasons as a solid player in Arizona.
Espinal’s 1-for-11 showing at the start of the season doesn’t generate a bunch of confidence, but, at the very least, he’s got a great glove. If none of these guys are going to hit, you might as well go with the best glove, which is Espinal.
And, again, there might be a future there. So why not just let him be the everyday shortstop?