Dalton Pompey is the kind of player the Toronto Blue Jays need and he should be seeing more playing time if the team is going to win
The Toronto Blue Jays are in a state of playoff limbo for the moment. Entering the last day of the season, they are not really sure how their October is going to look. Just like his team, Dalton Pompey is also in a state of limbo. He has been stuck at AAA, Buffalo for all of 2016, but shows signs of having tools that can help the big league club win. It is those tools that the club needs to utilize more if they are going to win in the future.
The Toronto Blue Jays need more Dalton Pompey!
We have seen that, when games are on the line, the Blue Jays will call on Pompey to pinch run or steal a base in the late innings. It worked in the 2015 postseason and his speed worked for them again on Saturday night against the Red Sox. He tagged at third base to score the go ahead run in the 9th inning. Without that, extra innings were looming and who knows how that could have gone. Instead, he used his wheels to score on a sac fly from Ezequiel Carrera:
In 3.5 seconds, Pompey scored and gave the Blue Jays a bit more comfort in the Wild Card race. It is that speed tool that the Blue Jays will need moving forward. Should they indeed find themselves in a tie breaker game, the use of his speed very well could decide the game. Then, the Wild Card game could be the same. We know all too well that there have been games that were far too close for our liking. When the season hangs in the balance, every 90 ft matters.
Should the Blue Jays be successful in their Wild Card pursuits, perhaps Pompey should be relied on in those same situations in the series’ that follow. It is not necessary to break down all of the different situations where the 23 yr old Canadian can use his speed to change the tide of a game. Instead, what is more worthwhile is looking at what that would mean for the approach the team takes moving forward.
It has been well documented that the Toronto Blue Jays are a team that sits back and waits for the big hit, the home run. It makes sense. Putting 3 on the board with one swing is very tantalizing. And, this lineup certainly makes that much easier. There are big boppers everywhere. The problem is that in playoff games, there just isn’t the time to wait for those big flies. In the playoffs, the need for using speed and guile is amplified. The Blue Jays just might need to change their style of play a bit.
That is not to say that Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson et al should switch to bunting. They are the big bats, they don’t need to change. But, the supporting cast has to be able to capitalize on their opportunities so that the sluggers can do their thing. There cannot be the drop off of production in the lineup. There cannot be waiting around. There needs to be an element of making things happen. Enter Dalton Pompey.
We know that his biggest tool is his speed. The Blue Jays need to utilize it. The question is in how they do that. For the playoffs, that answer would be as a substitution. He can come in late in a game. If John Gibbons wanted to really take things in his own hands, though, he could change that up completely. Rather than starting Michael Saunders in LF, he could start Pompey. The temptation might be to resist this idea in favor of the pop that Saunders provides. But, we also need to keep in mind the 2-3 strike outs that we have to sit through before that potential power maybe reveals itself. Is it worth it?
Pompey’s slash line of .285/.372/.356 from AAA offer up a guy who might get on base better than Saunders (OBP .339). There is no need to bring up that Pompey’s numbers were in AAA and that that is much different than MLB success. That’s obvious, thanks. One simply need ask if we’re more comfortable with Pompey bringing speed, etc over Saunders’ power potential. In a playoff game, the former may be more appealing.
The obvious next level of this conversation looks to next season, when the Blue Jays will have to address their outfield needs. For some reason, the organization seems to have backed off on the love for Pompey. He was having a great season in AAA (injuries aside) and they chose to call up the likes of Junior Lake instead. But, looking ahead to 2017, they may not have the option to ignore Pompey. Saunders and Bautista are both set to hit free agency. Without going into detail about each of those situations, the reality is that the club could lose 2 outfielders. Carrera is eligible for arbitration in 2017. Pompey is the obvious choice in moving forward, particularly if the club is interested in spending money elsewhere.
That could be a good thing. With Pompey in the lineup everyday, the Blue Jays have the opportunity to use that speed to their advantage. Rather than waiting for the playoffs to take that extra base, perhaps they could shift their approach right out of the gates. They could still have some power in their lineup, but with the potential of losing Encarnacion and Bautista, the need for creativity could be more dire. Pompey could be the guy to help with a new approach. A season is long, yes. But, if the Blue Jays really want to win games, maybe they don’t spend much time waiting around for big home runs. Maybe, they take matters into their own hands. Maybe, they give Dalton Pompey more playing time.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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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.