It feels like it’s been a tale of two Troy Tulowitzis during his tenure in Toronto. There was/is the Tulo from the 2015 postseason who practically tore the cover off the baseball, coming up with several clutch hits for the Blue Jays.
Then there was the Tulowitzki of earlier this season, who absolutely looked lost at the plate and in the field. He simply couldn’t catch up to fastballs, he was watching perfectly good pitches float in for strikes. Something seemed off.
Tulo’s sudden drop-off in defense was especially concerning because at the very least, he’s always been a good defender. Whether or not he was struggling at the plate, Troy Tulowitzki could also be counted on for stellar defense up the middle.
So when his glove started to go, that set off a lot of warning bells. “Were we witnessing the steady decline of Troy Tulowitzki? Was Tulo going down the tubes already?” The answer to those many criticisms has vehemently been “no”.
Those early-season concerns have since dissipated. Troy Tulowitzki is back to his former self, playing better-than-ever defense at shortstop and he’s hitting the ball with authority once again. Since returning from the disabled list on June 10th, Tulo has been one of the Blue Jays’ hottest hitters, if not one of baseball’s hottest hitters.
In 13 games after returning from the DL, Tulo has put together a tidy slash line of .321/.373/.698. Not to mention, six of his 16 home runs on the season have been hit in the past two weeks. He has truly been a treasure to watch ever since he came back from injury.
Troy Tulowitzki’s resurgence has cushioned the blow of losing Jose Bautista; who’s going to be out at least until after the All-Star break, potentially even longer. With Tulo’s bat suddenly heating up, the absence of Joey Bats in the lineup is longer quite as profound.
That’s why I think a healthy and productive Troy Tulowitzki is the key to the Blue Jays’ success this year; because at any given moment, the Blue Jays’ big three of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson aren’t always going to be firing at 100%. Heck, the big three might not always be in the lineup together, as evidenced by Jose Bautista’s injury.
That’s where Troy Tulowitzki comes in to fill the gaps between the Blue Jays’ top three sluggers. And so far this season, Tulo has proven that he can pick up the slack and then some.
Heading into the 2016 season, I think many Jays fans were excited to see what a healthy and comfortable Troy Tulowitzki was capable of over the course of a full season with the Blue Jays. His performance in the ALDS against the Rangers and the ALCS against the Royals only felt like the tip of the iceberg for Tulowitzki’s potential with the Blue Jays.
Those hopes came crashing down fairly quickly into the 2016 campaign, but they’ve since rekindled after Tulowitzki’s impressive two-week run both at the dish and on the diamond. Tulo’s been especially fun to watch at the plate after he uncorks home runs and bat drops like these.
Bautista had the bat flip. Tulo has the bat drop. pic.twitter.com/IUBpIPOlg6
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) July 3, 2016
Conveniently, Troy Tulowitzki’s turnaround has coincided with the Toronto Blue Jays’ recent resurgence. That can’t be a coincidence.
Even without Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays’ lineup looks as potent as ever; now with Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Michael Saunders and now Troy Tulowitzki delivering on offense. The Blue Jay’s big three has evolved into a big four, and upon Jose Bautista’s return, the potential to grow into a big five.
Interestingly enough, Troy Tulowitzki has batted sixth in the bulk of games he’s played this season; a testament to how deep the Blue Jays’ lineup truly is, that they’re able to slot Tulo down in the six or seven spot, where most teams would bat him cleanup.
Prior to his injury, Tulowitzki had struggled mightily at the plate; so it’s not as though he was sorely missed when he went on the disabled list. But now the opposite has happened; his absence may not have been felt, but his sudden presence has made a huge impact.
A healthy Troy Tulowitzki is showing how much value he can add to a team like the Toronto Blue Jays.
As valiant an effort as Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins played at shortstop, they simply can’t put up the offensive numbers which Troy Tulowitzki offers on a daily basis. All three can play elite-level defense, but only Tulo can offer game-changing offense.
A power-hitting shortstop is certainly a luxury for any team to have, but that’s why Troy Tulowitzki sometimes gets lost among the many sluggers the Toronto Blue Jays employ. That doesn’t mean his contributions mean anything less to this team; if anything, Troy Tulowitzki at 100% is exactly what this team needs to put it over the top.
Image via News Herald