The Toronto Blue Jays have pushed their contention window up with a strong first two-thirds of the season. At 24-20, Charlie Montoyo’s club sits half a game ahead of the Yankees for second place in the AL East. If the season ended today, Toronto would find themselves in the playoff bracket for the first time since back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016.
The Blue Jays have remained competitive despite a number of injuries to their offense. Bo Bichette is their biggest absence to date, but he’s back in the lineup for tonight’s game, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter). They may have other reinforcements on the way as well. GM Ross Atkins sounds hopeful that Rowdy Tellez can return soon, though his language suggests a playoff return is more likely, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Said Atkins, “Hopefully Rowdy becomes an option for us if not by the end of the season, hopefully by the playoffs.”
Tellez hit the injured list just a couple days ago with a knee strain. For the first 35 games of the season, the Blue Jays featured Tellez prominently as the big first baseman slashed .283/.346/.540 with 8 home runs and 23 RBIs while splitting his time between first base and designated hitter.
Teoscar Hernandez could return to the lineup even sooner, per Nicholson-Smith. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a breakout campaign as his contact and on-base skills have – at least in the small sample of the season – caught up with his considerable power. Over the previous two seasons, Hernandez posted a triple slash of .235/.304/.470 with 8.7 BB%, 32 K%, and a .235 ISO. This season, slight improvements in strikeout rate (28.3 K%) and a robust display of power (.329 ISO) have led to a .308/.358/.637 line with 14 home runs across 159 plate appearances this season for the right fielder. Of course, a .352 BABIP, perhaps brought on a by rising 56.9% Hard Hit percentage, hasn’t hurt his cause either. Per Nicholson-Smith, Hernandez’s recovery has thus far gone better than expected.