Flexibility paying dividends for Blue Jays

edwin encarnacion

At the beginning of the Toronto Blue Jays series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, fans were greeted with an unfamiliar sight.  Star slugger and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion jogged out to left field to start only his fourth career game in the outfield.

With Jose Bautista only able to get into the lineup as the designated hitter and Adam Lind batting .388 against right handed pitchers, putting Encarnacion in left field was the only way to get all three into the lineup.

The decision paid immediate dividends, as Bautista hit a two-out solo home run in the first inning and finished 1-3 with a walk.  Lind was 2-3 with an RBI before being pinch hit for in the seventh.  Encarnacion hit a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth to finish 2-3 with 3 RBI and a walk.  Juan Francisco also hit a home run against his former team and finished 1-2 with a walk as the Jays beat the Brewers 7-4.

With Brett Lawrie currently on the disabled list for 3-6 weeks with a fractured index finger, it has made Juan Francisco the everyday third baseman for the Jays.

Francisco is currently batting .242 with 13 HR, 32 RBI and a 74:19 K:BB ratio.  Francisco, however, has been unable to hit left handed pitching, batting .083 against south paws so far, prompting the Jays to give Steve Tolleson extra at bats at third base.  It has turned out to be the perfect platoon system, as Tolleson has hit well off of left handed pitching having posted a .315 average over 54 at bats.

The Jays only have this issue when there is a right handed starter on the mound, so it will be interesting to see how they continue to utilize these different player combinations.  The only guarantee is that the Blue Jays will always put a lineup out on the field that is capable of scoring in large numbers.

Stats from Bluejays.com

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