Blue Jays – Davis Schneider starts the game on the bench in series finale loss against Houston

Photo credit:© Troy Taormina - USA Today
Tyson Shushkewich
3 months ago
The talk of the town on Tuesday night was Davis Schneider and his two-run home run off Houston Astros closer Josh Hader, one of the top relievers in the MLB over the past few seasons.
On a night when the Blue Jays couldn’t buy a hit after being no-hit by right-hander Ronel Blanco the previous game, Schneider capitalized on a mistake pitch from Hader and sent the slider to left-center field, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. That was all that was needed to give the Jays the win, with reliever Chad Green finishing out the game with a scoreless inning.
This was Schneider’s third game of the season, with the right-handed batter slotting into the lineup in the series finale against Tampa and was a defensive replacement on Tuesday when Isiah Kiner-Falefa was tasked to finish the game on the mound. So far this year, the New Jersey product has two hits through eight at-bats, with both of his knocks coming via the long ball. Before the round-tripper on Wednesday, Schneider crushed a Tyler Alexander inside fastball over the left field wall at Tropicana Field to plate Ernie Clement and extend the Jays lead to 7-1. Besides the two homers, Schneider has also produced one walk while striking out four times.

Davis Schneider sits in the series finale against the Houston Astros

After an impressive clutch moment in game #2, the Blue Jays released the starting lineup before yesterday’s contest and Schneider was notably absent from the list. Considering how last night ended on a positive note for the Jays because of his bat, Jays fans were noticeably vocal about his name not being pencilled into the lineup.
Speaking to manager John Schneider before the game, the Jays skipper said to Hazel Mae about Schneider’s day starting on the bench, “He’s a big part of what we’re doing.. six games in, you want to just stay consistent.. So there does come a time where you don’t want somebody to sit too long… it’s like him, and Vogey (Vogelbach).”
When looking under the analytical hood, the sample size of stats does not favour Schneider on the diamond when facing a fastball-throwing right-hander in Christian Javier, the starting pitcher for the Astros last night. Javier, a pitcher who boasts a mid-90s fastball, likes to pitch high in the zone with his heater and a quick look at Schneider’s strikeout percentage from 2023 (116 at-bats) shows that he struggled the most with the high inside pitches, which included a 53.4% whiff rate on fastballs. When it comes to putting the ball in play, the right-handed batter excelled at pitches in the middle and toward the outside of the plate, seeing the ball a lot better when the opposing pitcher is not attacking him on the inside. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith also added that Schneider has admitted in the past about high fastballs giving him trouble as well.
Splits-wise, Schneider also boasts a significant improvement at the plate when facing left-handers compared to right-handers, which likely factored into the decision. He still boasts strong numbers against righties, especially from an OBP percentage, but his SLG is off the charts when facing a southpaw and he’s done more damage in these scenarios.
Platoon Splits – Career
vs RHP8873918812101227.247.375.466.841.364
vs LHP62511616408141020.314.436.8631.298.348
                                                                    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
While the analytics may not have favoured Schneider with Javier on the mound, after putting up a big run on Tuesday night, there is an argument to be made to ignore the data sometimes and run with a hot hand. In both games he has suited up in, Schneider has put a home run on the board. Although they were both against left-handers, when a lineup struggles to put the ball in play as the Blue Jays have done since landing in Houston, his power at the plate could have been a difference-maker at the end of the day.
As per Dan Shulman, it appears that the Jays have a plan to use the 25-year-old mostly against left-handers to start the season and see if he can force their hand for more at-bats similar to how he broke out in August when the Blue Jays called him up to play in their Boston series. That being said, while one can respect a plan and stick with it as the season is just getting started, the way Schneider can prove himself to get more at-bats is to continue putting him on the field when he is playing well, which the skipper did not do last night after his heroics the day before. While he may not be the most consistent at the moment considering his only hits have been over the outfield wall, a test like Javier who throws the high fastball and has been using his changeup with increased frequency was likely a good opportunity to do exactly what the Jays coaching staff wants to see – somebody emerge and force their hands for at-bats.
Overall, the decision to sit Schneider last night boils down to the analytics with the lefty/righty pitching matchups and sticking to a plan to have Schneider face southpaws for the majority of the start of the season. Considering the Jays depart Houston with a series loss and will face a Yankees rotation that features a majority of right-handers, the Jays will have to deviate from the plan if they want to get Schneider in the lineup this weekend or have him sit on the bench, which makes no sense.

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