Despite some questionable decisions, the Toronto Blue Jays are not likely to dismiss manager, Charlie Montoyo…at least not yet
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The Toronto Blue Jays lost 2 of 3 in Tampa to start the 2020 season, but it could have easily gone differently. Some fans will just be happy that baseball is back and that Toronto didn’t seem overmatched at Tropicana Field for once. However, there are many fans who question the decision making of manager, Charlie Montoyo, especially late in the games.
Sure, it’s early in the season, but the percentage of the season that has passed is greater than normal after one series. With management and players excited that a shortened season could result in a possible playoff spot, the first series means a lot more to some people. That means that in game decisions are amplified.
During game 2, Montoyo went to Sam Gaviglio late in a tie game and it blew up in his face. Gaviglio was used in a situation that required someone else. For some reason, the bench boss didn’t want to use relievers he used the day before despite it being only the second game of the season. That role is not one that best suits Gaviglio. Obviously, it is easy to say in hindsight, but the decision seemed questionable even in the moment.
One cannot blame Montoyo for trying something, for seeing if Gaviglio can be used in that role. Lesson learned. We know that the relatively inexperienced Montoyo was brought in, in part, for his creative thinking, something he would have picked up from the very same Rays. In theory, Montoyo has shown that with his usage of position players and even starters, opting for openers and piggy backing guys. But, his usage of the bullpen has been very suspect.
Game 3 is the perfect example of that. Having completely ignored Shun Yamaguchi, Montoyo brought in his series of arms to lead to his closer. Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano entered the game, but when it was Ken Giles‘ turn, something was clearly not right. Montoyo’s response was…less than ideal.
Charlie Montoyo noticed the velocity dip and there was a concern from the dugout, but:
"We asked on the bench, but he was fine. He said he was fine. We called from the bench and he said he was fine."
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 26, 2020
Folks watching on the TV could tell something was not right. It is a manager’s job to make the decisions. Of course a player is going to say he’s fine. We’re talking about a guy who is playing for an extension or his next contract via free agency. Montoyo should have stepped in. The more forgiving fan would say that it was simply the wrong decision and we should move on while the less forgiving among us would call it negligent or abusive. Remember, last summer, a similar situation happened to Giles whereby he pitched and should not have because he was hurt.
Obviously, a manager has to walk a fine line when listening to his players. We know that John Gibbons very much let players run the clubhouse, etc. In fact, Montoyo was brought in because he has a track record of working well with young players, so developing trust is of importance.
Now, here we are looking at Game 4 of the season and the Blue Jays will be without their closer for a time. It may not matter if the season gets shut down. And, with the Marlins being hit with so many cases of Covid, MLB is having an emergency meeting, which could end things and provide Montoyo with a reprieve.
Or, he may not need one at all. The Blue Jays front office has said time and time again that they are putting a premium on clubhouse presence and molding young players into the kind of people they want to see. They chose Montoyo to help with this vision. Whether we agree with their philosophy doesn’t matter. Montoyo’s experience with young players and whatever he learned from the Rays is something the Blue Jays management values.
Fans may be upset with the decision making of Charlie Montoyo, especially when it leads to the injury of their closer. But, the front office may feel differently..at least for now. They may be willing to forgive some errant judgement since an entire season does not come down to a couple of bullpen calls.
Or does it? The Toronto Blue Jays may be able to forgive this past series even if fans are not. But, if lessons aren’t learned, one has to wonder how much more leeway Montoyo will be given.
*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.