Can Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Save the Toronto Blue Jays’ Season?

Payton Matthews | Updated Apr 25, 2019

Vladimir Guerrero

What was to be a rather nondescript series opener Friday between the A’s and the Jays is now is of the most interesting Jays games of the year with the debut of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The Blue Jays aren’t going to be very good in this rebuilding season. They enter Friday’s series opener against the visiting Oakland A’s at 11-14 and probably will finish either fourth or fifth in the AL East. The Jays already lost the guy who had been their best starting pitcher, Matt Shoemaker, to a season-ending injury. Promising young second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was struggling so badly early on he was sent down to the minors.

Oakland A’s vs. Toronto Blue Jays MLB Odds and Betting Analysis

This weekend already wraps up the season series between the A’s and Jays as Toronto swept a three-game series in Oakland last weekend. Thus, both of Friday’s starting pitchers will be familiar to their opponent.

It’s veteran right-hander Mike Fiers (2-2, 8.28) for Oakland. He has been absolutely terrible the past three starts in allowing 18 runs and 23 hits over 10 innings. Last Saturday, he was on the losing end of a 10-1 decision to the Jays, allowing six runs and nine hits, two homers, over 3.1 innings. Drury and Rowdy Tellez homered off Fiers in a five-run fourth inning.

Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (1-3, 1.76) hasn’t gotten much support from his offence but was terrific last Friday in Oakland, allowing one run and six hits with six strikeouts over a season-high eight innings in earning his first win of the year. Stroman hasn’t allowed a home run in his five starts yet and is 0-2 with a 1.08 ERA in three home starts. A couple of Oakland batters hit him well career: Khris Davis is 3-for-10 with a homer and Marcus Semien 6-for-11.

Oakland has won its past four games in Toronto.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Debuts at Rogers Centre

The first sign of hope for the future arrives on Friday night in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball and the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, the legendary former Montreal Expo. What dad could do was rake at the plate, able to drive pitches from his eyes to his ankles. His son has the same gift.

Vlad Jr. – some call him Baby Vlad – signed with Toronto as a 16-year-old on July 2, 2015, for $3.9 million. In his minor-league career over several levels, he has hit .331 with 44 homers, 209 RBIs, a .413 on-base percentage and .531 slugging in 1,075 at-bats. In eight games at Triple-A Buffalo this season, he was batting .367 with three homers and eight RBIs.

It’s possible Guerrero might have made the big club out of spring training this year, but he suffered an oblique injury. That was somewhat of a hidden gift for the Blue Jays because it meant he had to start the season in the minors to rehab and thus would delay his service-time clock for eventual free agency down the road. Most likely, the Jays would have kept him in the minors until about the third week of April regardless simply for service-time reasons. It’s a very common strategy by MLB teams with their top prospects (the MLBPA will demand that change in the next CBA).

Guerrero should start at third base – his big body might necessitate a shift to a corner outfield spot or DH eventually – on Friday, with Manager Charlie Montoyo not saying where Guerrero might hit. Probably third, fourth or fifth. Regular third baseman Brandon Drury, who is really struggling at the plate, will to move to second base.

Oakland A’s vs. Toronto Blue Jays Score Prediction

Jays 5

A’s 3