Blue Jays drop scuffling Francisco to eighth in lineup

Blue Jays drop scuffling Francisco to eighth in lineup

TORONTO -- Blue Jays third baseman Juan Francisco was dropped to No. 8 in the batting order for Tuesday night's game against the Twins at least partially because he has been slumping at the plate.

Francisco entered the game hitless in his previous 13 at-bats. Since May 21, he's hitting .159 (7-for-44) with a .229 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBIs.

Opposing teams seem to be taking a different approach with him over the past couple of weeks. Francisco has been seeing a lot more offspeed pitches as pitchers tend to avoid challenging him with a fastball as much as possible.

"His game is power, that's who he is," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But he's just on one of those stretches right now, a lot of swing and miss. He had one of those earlier in the season too and he got out of it fairly quickly. You live and die with that, you know, because he catches one right, a guy or two on base, it makes a huge difference in the game."

Francisco began the season hitting .292 (26-for-89) with eight homers and 19 RBIs in 26 games. One of the main reasons for his surprise success was that he was taking a much more patient approach at the plate. At least on the surface, it doesn't appear as though plate discipline has been a major issue in his slump.

According to Fangraphs, Francisco swung at 29.4 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone during first 26 games. Since then, he is up slightly to 31.3 percent. On the season, he has swung at 30.4 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone compared to 36.6 percent in 2013 and 43.2 percent in 2012.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.