Five Blue Jays Thoughts: What’s up with Bo Bichette, clock ticking on Alek Manoah, and more

Bo Bichette Blue Jays
Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Ethan Diamandas
1 month ago
The status quo persists in Blue Jays land, where Toronto’s beloved squad has continued its magnificently average pace. Now 15-15, the Blue Jays are knee-deep in a rivalry with the Royals (which I love), but big-picture problems are all too real.
Here are five Blue Jays thoughts on the final day of April.

All hail Justin Turner

There’s more to Justin Turner than meets the eye. He’s slow, not especially athletic, but man, can he crack a baseball. Armed with years of experience and a perfected catch-it-in-front swing, the 39-year-old leads the Jays in most major offensive categories.
Turner is different from other one-year veterans the Blue Jays have signed in years past. He’s a more hands-on mentor than Brandon Belt, for example, who rolled up to the park later than everyone else and never took on-field batting practice (as far as I saw).
Turner simplifies instructions to younger hitters and has taken Davis Schneider as a protégé of sorts. It must be working because Turner and Schneider are two of only three Blue Jays hitters with an OPS above .800 this season.

What’s up with Bo Bichette?

Mired in a career-worst 1-for-18 stretch, Bo Bichette looks messy at the plate. His career-low 2.3% barrel rate suggests there’s a mechanical flaw within the 26-year-old’s hack-at-all-costs approach. While Bichette’s average exit velocity versus fastballs (91.3 mph) remains steady, his velos versus offspeeds (83.1 mph) and breaking pitches (84.3 mph) have never been lower.
The greater the movement, the greater the problems for Bichette, who got a day off Monday. A few more off days, as well as a demotion in the lineup, should be next, assuming his problems persist.

Big, bad Barger breaks through

I’ve enjoyed the Addison Barger experience so far. Is he physically talented? Very much so. Does he bring a knucklehead mentality to the plate and the infield? Oh, yes. But Barger is young, and that’s all part of the fun.
Just the other day, Barger uncorked a 100.6-mph throw from right field – his best defensive position, in my opinion – which set a franchise record for the Statcast era. His strength plays at the plate, too, as exemplified by his 106-mph base hit Monday.
It will take a lot of effort to civilize a wild horse like Barger, but his raw talent gives him a very high ceiling. That’s a rarity among Blue Jays players these days.

A fun theory

Let’s keep with Monday’s 6-5 win over the Royals, a game I’ve prematurely coined the best Jays game of the season. This victory coincides with the Danny Jansen glasses and jersey giveaway, an outfit sported by fans and Jays players throughout the evening. Jansen has sported his simple look for years, and everyone had fun at his expense, donning the spectacles and rallying a Jays win.
It looked like the Blue Jays dugout used the shtick as a serious spark. After Turner’s homers, Vladdy Guerrero Jr. greeted his teammate with the Jano goggles on, and everyone had a laugh. The homers and big smiles in the dugout brought me back to 2021 and 2022, when Toronto’s easygoing offence propelled the club to victory.
Toronto doesn’t have to go full Minnesota Twins home run sausage, but a few more props might be nice.

Clock ticking on Alek Manoah

Alek Manoah gets (presumably) his final rehab start Tuesday in Triple-A opposite Pirates stud pitching prospect Paul Skenes. The Jays righty has a 9.00 ERA in three starts with the Bisons this season (12.51 ERA if you count his Single-A outing), leaving much to be desired.
John Schneider went as far as to call Manoah’s last start “not ideal,” abstaining from any other public criticism of his once Cy Young calibre pitcher. This is a big day for Manoah, who must show something resembling major-league value. There could be a piggyback bullpen spot available for Manoah on the Jays, but he’s better used as a starter in a perfect scenario.
If Manoah falters again Tuesday, he’s destined to be optioned to Buffalo full-time. And that’s when the real controversy begins, as Manoah hasn’t been keen on such an idea in the past.

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