The Blue Jays rotation was key to Toronto’s success last season, but it did also have its weak points. Heading into 2023, the Blue Jays are set to return mostly the same group as far as the rotation is concerned, but a new face should make this group a bit deeper. Let’s take a closer look at the Blue Jays rotation heading into this upcoming season.
A Look at the Blue Jays Rotation Options
- RHP Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA, 8.2 K/9 in 2022)
- RHP Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.35 ERA, 10.6 K/9)
- RHP Chris Bassitt (15-9, 3.42 ERA, 8.3 K/9)
- RHP José Berríos (12-7, 5.23 ERA, 7.8 K/9)
- LHP Yusei Kikuchi (6-7, 5.19 ERA, 11.1 K/9)
The rotation for the Blue Jays could fluctuate depending on injuries or other factors, but this is essentially what it should look like come 2023.
When we recapped our picks for the best rotations in the league, the Blue Jays ranked among the top five teams. That’s not much of a shock, given the star power that the Jays can boast. Toronto is set to roll out a rotation led by three of the league’s top pitchers from 2022, as well as two others who will look to shine after a tough year.
Let’s start off with Alek Manoah, who owns the third-lowest ERA (2.60) in baseball since 2021 among pitchers with at least 250 innings thrown. Only Max Scherzer (2.38) and Julio Urías (2.57) posses better figures over that time. The righty feasted on opposing hitters last season, thanks to a fastball that Manoah used to pound the zone, coupled with a plus slider and good changeup. The 6’6” right-hander proved that he can be an ace in the Majors, and Toronto will look for similar results in 2022.
Then, there’s RHP Kevin Gausman. Gausman struck out 205 over 174.2 innings in his first season in Toronto, and followed it up a sparkling outing against Seattle in the AL Wild Card. The 32-year-old owns arguably the best splitter in the game, one that looks very much like a fastball before it drops.
Only five pitchers have more total strikeouts than Gausman does over the past two seasons.
The newcomer to the Jays rotation for this upcoming season is Chris Bassitt. In our recap of the Jays’ signing of Bassitt, we made mention of the fact that right-hander owns a rather eclectic arsenal, including two different curveballs. A crafty right that owns impressive control, the ex-Met won 15 games and recorded a solid 3.42 ERA in 2022.
Those three were reliable in 2022, but the same can’t be said for José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi. Berrios owned the worst ERA among qualified pitchers last season, and recorded his worst WHIP (1.42) and K/9 in a single season his since his rookie season in 2016. Batters took him to task in 2022, something the Jays didn’t have in mind when Toronto acquired him back in the summer of 2021.
Yusei Kikuchi, meanwhile, did strike out a lot of batters. However, poor control and command ultimately did him in. With Hyun-Jin Ryu most likely out for all of 2023 thanks to UCL reconstruction surgery, the onus may be on Kikuchi to come through. Otherwise, another internal option like Mitch White — who did see time in the Jays rotation after being acquired from the Dodgers last summer — or Ricky Tiedemann should he be ready at some point in 2023.