The Blue Jays had hopes of making it past the AL Wild Card round in 2023, one year after Seattle stunned Toronto at home. However, the Jays had themselves an underwhelming season offensively and could not muster much of it against the Twins in the 2023 MLB Postseason. Here’s our recap of the Blue Jays’ 2023 season.
The Toronto Blue Jays pitching turned out to be a key strength this past season.
Toronto got incredible results yet again from Kevin Gausman, who struck out 237 batters over 185 innings thanks in large part to his splitter. But, he wasn’t alone.
Free agent acquisition Chris Bassitt proved to be an innings eater for Toronto, as he threw 200 frames, struck out 186, and won 16 games in the season where he posted a solid 3.60 ERA. However, the two keys to the rotation were actually Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi.
The duo of Berrios of Kikuchi produced uneven results last season, but things went right for both in 2023. Kikuchi continued to be a strikeout machine, but he conceded just 48 walks over 167.2 IP — much better than the 58 over 100.2 IP a year earlier — and saw his home run rate drop. As for Berrios, the Whiff% rate went up four points and his ERA dipped to 3.65.
The bullpen was also excellent, as closer Jordan Romano notched 36 saves. Left-hander Tim Mayza had a 1.52 ERA in 2023, while Erik Swanson and midseason acquisition Jordan Hicks proved to be key pieces for the Jays.
It’s hard to comprehend how things went for the Jays offense in 2023. In 2022, Toronto scored the fourth-most runs (775) and third-best OPS (.760) in the Majors. But this season, the Jays dipped outside the top ten — despite having arguably one of the most talented lineups in the game.
Shortstop Bo Bichette did have himself a strong 2023. However, many notable characters on the Jays roster couldn’t say the same.
Unfortunately for the Jays, the offense didn’t get better come playoff time. Toronto scored just one run in the team’s two AL Wild Card games against the Twins.
As for the pitching, there might not have been a bigger fall from grace than what happened to Alek Manoah this past season.
Manoah was an AL Cy Young Award finalist in 2022 but things went very awry for the young right-hander in 2023. The 25-year-old walked 59 over 87.1 IP, saw his fastball velocity dip over one MPH, and posted an unsightly 5.87 ERA.
What to Look For in 2024
Toronto does have Cavan Biggio and Davis Schneider as infield options for 2023 to go along with Bichette and Guerrero Jr., but a reunion with Chapman isn’t out of the question if reports are to be believed.
The reality for the Jays entering 2024 is this: Toronto needs the team’s pieces that are currently in place to lead the charge next season.
Obviously, additions to the infield and pitching staff would put the Jays in a better place. However, a healthy Manoah can go a long way if he can reclaim some of that form he had in 2022. And, Toronto will need more from the likes of Guerrero Jr., Springer, and Alejandro Kirk.