Blue Jays Fire Charlie Montoyo

The Blue Jays have fired manager Charlie Montoyo, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The decision comes barely three months after Montoyo signed a one-year extension that ran through the end of the 2023 season.

The Blue Jays have announced the move via press release. Montoyo has been “relieved of his duties as manager” (i.e. fired) in favor of bench coach John Schneider, who’ll assume the position on an interim basis through the end of the 2022 season. Triple-A manager Casey Candaele is joining the Major League staff as an interim bench coach as well.

It’s rare to see a team that’s four games over .500 and in possession of a Wild Card spot oust its skipper, but Montoyo’s Jays are in the midst of a dreadful stretch that has seen them drop nine of their past 11 games. That includes a sweep at the hands of a red-hot Mariners club that used a series of four straight wins over Toronto to pull itself back to within a half game of the very Wild Card spot to which the recently floundering Blue Jays are clinging. ESPN’s Jeff Passan adds that “questions in the clubhouse about leadership” also contributed to Montoyo’s dismissal (Twitter link).

It’s been an unexpectedly mediocre season for the Blue Jays on the whole. While their lineup has been well above-average overall — Toronto hitters are batting .259/.321/.435, good for a fifth-ranked 111 wRC+ — that masks a dismal stretch in the middle of the season where the Jays were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league for a few weeks. Even with those solid rate stats, Toronto sits just 11th in total runs scored (401), and their offense has not been the juggernaut unit that most expected.

Each of Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have been better than the average hitter but shy of their recent levels of production (Bichette in particular). Offseason acquisition Matt Chapman has been better than he was in his past couple seasons with Oakland but has yet to rebound to the form he showed prior to 2020 hip surgery.

There have been similarly unexpected troubles on the pitching staff, with Jose Berrios’ unexpected decline chief among them. The longtime Twins top starter and prized 2021 deadline acquisition for the Jays signed a seven-year contract extension in the offseason and has immediately followed up with far and away his worst performance since his rookie season.

Berrios was the picture of consistency for the Twins from 2017-21 and pitched like his typically strong self down the stretch with Toronto following last July’s trade. However, he’s stumbled through the 2022 season with a 5.38 ERA and career-low 20.7% strikeout rate through 95 1/3 frames. His rotationmate, offseason free-agent signing Yusei Kikuchi, has had similar struggles in the first season of a three-year deal. Hyun Jin Ryu was lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Injuries have prevented Nate Pearson from taking the mound.

Of course, those shortcomings certainly don’t fall squarely on Montoyo’s shoulders, but he’ll be the one to bear the blame for the struggles of those expected contributors and the team’s recent spate of often close losses. He becomes the third manager to be dismissed this season alone, as both Joe Girardi (Phillies) and Joe Maddon (Angels) were fired earlier in the year.

At least in terms of win-loss record, Montoyo will go down as one of the more successful managers fired in recent memory. Despite taking over in the late stages of a rebuild in 2019, he guided the Jays to an even 236-236 record in his three-plus seasons on the job. Prior to his time with the Jays, the bilingual Montoyo was one of the most successful minor league managers in Rays franchise history, and he also spent four seasons as bench coach in Tampa Bay. Given that history and track record, it stands to reason that he could find himself in the running for some offseason coaching and/or managerial searches — if his desire is to get right back into a dugout, of course.

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