Despite playoff position, Blue Jays fire manager Charlie Montoyo in surprising move

·2 min read

In the third and certainly most startling managerial firing of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays dismissed manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday, despite the club's winning record and current playoff positioning.

Montoyo, 56, was in his fourth season as Blue Jays manager, a period that saw them integrate budding, second-generation stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette into the lineup and expend significant capital to lure and retain stars like center fielder George Springer and pitchers Jose Berríos and Hyun-jin Ryu.

Bench coach John Schneider will serve as interim manager for the remainder of this season, the team announced.

The ramp-up resulted in a playoff berth during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and a 91-win campaign in 2021 that fell one game shy of a three-way tie with Boston and the New York Yankees for the American League's wild-card berths.

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This year, the Blue Jays were 46-42 and holding a half-game lead for the third AL wild-card spot in the newly expanded playoff format when the Blue Jays fired Montoyo. They have also been wracked by injuries and spotty pitching performance, with Ryu - in the third season of a four-year, $80 million deal - out after Tommy John surgery and fifth starter Yusei Kikuchi pitching to a 5.12 ERA.

Charlie Montoyo was hired prior to the 2019 season.
Charlie Montoyo was hired prior to the 2019 season.

Overall, the Blue Jays were 236-236 under Montoyo but 169-141 the past three seasons, which coincided with the additions of Ryu, Springer (six years, $150 million) and Berríos, who was acquired from Minnesota and signed to a seven-year, $131 million extension.

The Blue Jays have not made the playoffs in a full season since 2016, when they advanced to a second consecutive AL Championship Series under John Gibbons, who was dismissed after the 2018 season.

Montoyo joins Philadelphia's Joe Girardi and the Los Angeles Angels' Joe Maddon in the managerial unemployment line; the Angels were 27-29 under Maddon and now 11-21 under interim manager Phil Nevin.

Yet Montoyo seems as much a victim of exterior forces. The Blue Jays began play Thursday a half-game ahead of Seattle for the third wild card slot and in fourth place in the AL East, one game behind the Boston Red Sox but 15 1/2 games behind the 61-26 New York Yankees.

A native of Puerto Rico, the bilingual Montoyo was a popular figure in Toronto even as fans questioned his managerial maneuverings. Montoyo occasionally played his percussion instruments from his manager's office and jammed with a Toronto salsa band.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Blue Jays fire Charlie Montoyo: Toronto dumps manager in surprise move