The 24-19 Blue Jays are firmly in possession of a postseason spot at the moment, and an already-strong roster could soon get a major reinforcement. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that young shortstop Bo Bichette could return from the injured list in tie for this weekend’s series against the Mets. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet tweeted yesterday that Bichette was 2-for-3 in a simulated game Tuesday before taking four plate appearances and playing six inning at shortstop in another sim game Wednesday.
Bichette, 22, has been nothing short of amazing through his first 60 big league games, hitting .323/.366/.595 with 16 homers, 22 doubles and eight stolen bases through 276 trips to the plate. He was particularly remarkable in 14 games this season before suffering a knee sprain, as he’d slashed .361/.391/.672 through his first 64 plate appearances. The Jays are off today, but a return tomorrow could mean Bichette returns for as many as 17 games to close out the regular season.
In Bichette’s absence, the Blue Jays have relied on the trio of Santiago Espinal, Joe Panik and recent trade acquisition Jonathan Villar have worked to hold down the fort at shortstop — with mixed results. Panik has hit quite well since Bichette went down (.327/.444/.423), though he’s spent more time at his customary second base than on the other side of the bag at shortstop. Espinal carries a .282/.326/.359 slash in 44 plate appearances dating back to Bichette’s injury. Villar, the most established player of the bunch, has struggled to a .194/.306/.194 slash in 33 plate appearances over his eight games in Toronto.
With 17 games remaining on the schedule and none against the division-leading Rays, the Blue Jays are a long shot to overtake Tampa Bay for the division lead. However, they’ll follow up this weekend’s three-game series against the Mets with three games at Yankee Stadium, and they still have another four-game set against the Yankees later this month. With the Yanks trailing the Jays by two games and seven contests between the two clubs still to come, Bichette’s impending return carries all the more consequence.