After struggling mightily to start the 2018 season and hitting the DL, Randal Grichuk is finally showing Toronto Blue Jays fans what he can do
When the Toronto Blue Jays first acquired Randal Grichuk from the St Louis Cardinals, I was over the moon. The reason for my excitement wasn’t just because I thought he would be the perfect fit for Canada’s team, making me correct in my thinking, but because the deal meant that the Blue Jays would be adding a legitimate defensive force and potential power bat to their lineup.
The 26 year old found himself expendable in St Louis thanks to the embarrassment of riches in their outfield. The fact that Grichuk was made available had nothing to do with the ability he possessed. Sure, he strikes out a lot (career rate of 29.7%), but that matters less than it ever has to the decision makers in Major League Baseball. A guy can strike out 200 times and a team would not care if he hits 30+ dingers. Hell, a lineup can have 3 of those guys and front offices love it. (I see you, New York). For Toronto, the excellent defense combined with a career ISO of .237 was all too enticing.
Unfortunately, as they say, baseball is very much a thing that cannot be judged until it happens. As good as any deal looks, it can’t be measured until we see how the players involved have performed. So far, this trade could be considered a wash as Dominic Leone has pitched to a 4.15 ERA and -0.1 fWAR and Conner Greene collected a 4.44 ERA for the Cardinals AA squad. Meanwhile Grichuk got off to one of the worst starts a hitter can have at the major league level. Charged with replacing a franchise icon, Grichuk was a monumental disappointment for fans who did not care about what he could do, only what he was doing.
Nearing the end of April with no sign of improvement, it was thought that maybe Grichuk needed some kind of break. If his struggles happened around the All Star break, he would be the one player we’d say needed the time off to get away from the game and regroup. But, we were over two full months away from that point in the season. As it turned out, Grichuk got the break he needed as he hit the DL after spraining his knee on an awkward catch. He missed the entire month of May. You hate to see any player hurt, but in the case of Randal Grichuk, it might have actually done him some good.
Since his return on June 1, Grichuk has given Blue Jays fans a glimpse of what they’ve been missing. He’s been rather productive. Take his home run on Saturday for example:
He showed off his power potential by launching the first pitch he saw in the at bat in the CF seats. But, the great thing is that it is not an isolated incident. In fact, since returning from the DL on June 1, Grichuk has three homers, seven hits, three doubles, five runs scored and seven RBI. These are the kind of numbers that made me so excited when the trade went down. I couldn’t wait to see him hit in the AL East. In fact, when I spoke with Mark Shapiro about the upcoming season for the (*cough* #1 BEST SELLER *cough*) Jays From the Couch Guide to the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays, we both thought he would have a big year.
This recent run of success very well could be a small sample of production that could fizzle in a week or two. Or, it could be what we’ve been waiting to see from the 24th overall pick in the 2009 Draft. Sure, the Negative Nelly’s will want to see him perform like this over a longer period of time. And, that would be great. But, you have to start somewhere. Maybe this is the start to Grichuk turning his season around. Time will tell. With two more seasons of team control remaining, we’ll have lots of time to find out.
For now, we’ll sit back and enjoy the glimpse of the Randal Grichuk we thought the Blue Jays were getting. With him returning to form, the starting rotation looking rather solid for 6 starts in a row and others moving closer and closer to returning, there is an ever so small glimmer of hope for this 2018 season.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.