Before the season began, if you would have asked the Blue Jays if they would be happy with being 27-25 and 1.5 games back of the second wild-card spot 52 games into the season, they likely would have taken it. Considering the injuries that the team has sustained, you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder what the big deal is, but the story is much different if you have watched the games and the moves Charlie Montoyo has made.
The most recent Montoyo blunder comes from yesterday’s doubleheader against Cleveland. In the opening game of the day, Ross Stripling was dealing going five solid innings allowing only two hits and only one run that came off a Josh Naylor home run in the fifth inning. Instead of allowing Stripling to go out for another inning, Montoyo turned to Rafael Dolis and subsequently Jordan Romano to close out the game. The Blue Jays secured the win in the game but lost the option to turn to their closer and their second option for the second game.
With the Blue Jays looking like they would cruise t0 victory in the second game, Steven Matz and Tyler Chatwood teamed up to let Cleveland back into the game. With the game tied at four heading into the top of the seventh, the Blue Jays scored a run to regain the lead on a Marcus Semien single. Everything was great, except for the fact that Montoyo had no one warming up in the bullpen, partly thanks to Dolis and Romano being unavailable because of a short-sighted move earlier in the afternoon.
Handing the ball to Chatwood with a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh with absolutely no backup plan in case things went south would go about as well as anyone with baseball sense would expect. Terrible. Chatwood couldn’t locate to save his life and after recording the first out of the inning, walked four consecutive batters to bring in the tying run. It was only at this point that Montoyo decided he had seen enough and put Anthony Castro in the worst possible situation. Bases loaded with one out and Cleveland’s best hitter coming to the plate. Despite Castro’s valiant effort, Jose Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly and scored the winning run. Game over.
To be fair to Chatwood, he opened the season pitching great. He was getting people out and limiting runs, but that doesn’t mean that he can do that every single time he pitches and it’s up to the manager to decide when they come out. Montoyo seemed to have the mindset of allowing Chatwood to make up for previous outings no matter if it made sense for the team at that moment or not as commentator Buck Martinez pointed out multiple times on the broadcast.
The loss isn’t entirely Montoyo’s fault, it never is. The manager can’t step foot on the field and swing the bat, the players do that. In the case of yesterday’s game, however, it is simply inexcusable to sit on your hands and not have a backup plan. It is things like that that make Montoyo look like he should still be managing a minor league club instead of one of Canada’s biggest teams.
People always talk about what an amazing person Montoyo is, and there is no denying that he is a guy that you would love to talk to, but at some point, winning baseball games needs to become the priority. If this continues, the Blue Jays need to be prepared to look for their next manager and it better be a good one or they will suffer the same fate that they are right now.
As for who could replace Montoyo should be fired mid-season, Pete Walker is the most immediate solution that I can see. He has been fantastic with reviving some of the careers of the pitchers he has been handed including Matz, Robbie Ray, and of late, Stripling. He doesn’t seem like a long-term solution, but rather a short-term band-aid. It is worth noting however that the Blue Jays picked up the option on Montoyo’s contract, meaning that he will likely be the team’s manager in 2022 baring the club walking back their commitments.