How the Blue Jays Stack Up Entering the 2023 MLB Postseason

2023 MLB Postseason Blue Jays Varsho and Merrifield

The Blue Jays’ 2022 season ended on a brutal note in the AL Wild Card round. A year later, Toronto will look to avenge their demons from last year in the American League playoffs. Here’s an overview of how the Blue Jays look as Toronto heads into the 2023 MLB Postseason.

Related: How the Marlins Stack Up Entering the 2023 MLB Postseason

A Look at the Blue Jays Offense

The Blue Jays offense in 2022 proved to be a force. Toronto finished the season last year fourth in runs scored (775), third in team OPS (.760), second in wOBA (.331), and first in Hard Hit% (44.3%). In 2023, Toronto’s offense could not match that might in the regular season.

Toronto sat in the middle of the pack — 15th in the Majors, to be exact — in runs scored (738) as of October 1, and tied with the O’s for 11th in team OPS (.744). Those aren’t terrible numbers, but not exactly what was to be expected at the start of the year.

The Blue Jays offense in 2022 was heavily right-handed, and the Toronto front office addressed that with the additions of Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brandon Belt. All three brought a different skill set, and all three did deliver in that respect.

Belt posted a strong .368 OBP and hit 18 home runs in 102 games, while Kiermaier posted a +13 Outs Above Average. Varsho recorded a low .677 OPS but did hit 20 home runs for the Jays. Those three weren’t the reason for the Jays’ decline offensively, but down years from others didn’t help.

Geroge Springer eclipsed the 20 home run plateau for the third consecutive season. On the other hand, the outfielder posted the lowest OPS (.732) of his MLB career in 2023. Third baseman Matt Chapman tore up the Majors in April but hit just .205 and posted about a league-average ISO (.156) from May 1 onward. Catchers Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen, meanwhile, could not put up 2022-like numbers this season.

Star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is another player who didn’t exactly meet expectations this season. The 24-year-old did hit 26 home runs, but his .789 OPS was his worst as a Major Leaguer since his rookie campaign in 2019.

There were positives, like the resurgence of Whit Merrifield and the continued excellence of Bo Bichette. However, the offense could have been better this season.

A Look at the Blue Jays Pitching

We’re not going to delve into the rough season for Alek Manoah, as that has been well-documented. We will, however, key in on ace Kevin Gausman.

Gausman should be a finalist for the AL Cy Young this year after what was an incredible 2023 season. The Blue Jays ace finished fourth in the American League in ERA (3.16) and first in strikeouts (237). The righty will attempt to ride that wave into October beginning in the Wild Card round.

Kevin Gausman splitter whiff heat map 2023
It’s pretty clear what the game plan is with Kevin Gausman. Work the splitter off the fastball, and he’s done it with great success. Here’s a look at Gausman’s splitter whiff heat map. Look at all the misses out of the zone.

Aside from Gausman, Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi all delivered sub-4.00 ERA figures. Left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in eleven starts in the second half.

Between Gausman, Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, and a much-improved Jose Berrios, the Blue Jays rotation has the depth necessary to make a run in the MLB Postseason.

Toronto’s bullpen also proved to be a strength, as the Jays relievers ranked in the top ten in ERA (3.67) and K% (26%). Closer Jordan Romano was excellent when healthy, while Erik Swanson, Tim Mayza, and mid-season acquisitions Jordan Hicks and Genesis Cabrera all did their jobs, as well.

Combine all those elements together, and it creates a deep pitching staff that was a force in 2023. Toronto entered the day on October 1 tied with the Brewers for first in team ERA (3.73) and second in strikeouts (1.519) behind the Twins.

How the Blue Jays Can Win it All

Before the start of the 2023 season, we predicted that the Blue Jays would win the American League pennant for the first time since 1993.

That could still very well happen. Toronto still has a deep roster and the bats that can impact a game on a whim. But in order for the Jays to succeed this October, they’ll need every bit that can be squeezed out of their rotation and stars in the lineup.

The Jays will head to Minnesota to play the Twins in the AL Wild Card round. It’s a winnable series, but time will tell whether the Jays can win it.