The Toronto Blue Jays pulled off one of the biggest trades at the deadline this year, sending top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for starter Jose Berrios.
The move was pretty big for the club, as it was the first trade Ross Atkins ever made where he involved top prospects in a deal in exchange for veteran talent. After inheriting a veteran club in late 2015, the Blue Jays went through a tough rebuild and are now looking to win games and make the playoffs rather than stockpile the farm system.
The trade with the Twins was met with a mix of excitement and backlash, as fans were happy to add another established starter to the rotation but feared that it was an overpay in giving up Martin and SWR. Compared to other big trades at the deadline, like the Yankees acquiring Joey Gallo and the Dodgers adding Trea Turner and Max Scherzer, it seemed like the Blue Jays gave up too much to fans who really valued the club’s prospects. The price was quite high, but Berrios is not just a one-year rental, which is why the price for the right-hander was two top prospects.
Berrios would make fans feel better about the trade through his first two starts, where he went 12.0 innings with only one earned run while striking out 13 with one walk. Not a bad way to start your Blue Jays career.
After three disappointing outings, Blue Jays trade deadline acquisition Jose Berrios threw a gem against the Detroit Tigers, going seven innings strong with 11 strikeouts.
That feeling started to get a little uneasy once the Jays went on the road, as his next three starts saw him fail to go 5.0+ innings and he surrendered 10 combined earned runs, highlighted by a six-run game on August 12th against the Angels in Los Angeles. His command was not present during two of those games, as he gave up four walks to the Angels and three to the Washington Nationals the following outing.
In a quick turn of events, it appeared that the trade may have been in vain for this season as Berrios was starting to struggle, as fans were hoping for the same result as when the Blue Jays acquired David Price back in 2015, where he was dominant through 11 outings to the tune of a 2.30 ERA with a 9-1 record. To make matters more complicated, the Blue Jays bats have been pretty silent as of late, meaning the pitching staff needs to keep the runs down as the offensive support is not there right now.
Yesterday was a big day for Berrios, as he got the start he really needed to gain momentum and helped put a win up for the Blue Jays to take their first series since the Red Sox came to Toronto back in early August. The right-hander would go seven strong innings, allowing one run (unearned) while striking out 11 batters with no walks and only six hits. He pretty much left zero pitches in the middle and was painting corners on both sides of the plate, mixing up the levels and keeping hitters off balance.
Berrios made a mechanical adjustment to his delivery, keeping his hands at his belt in the windup versus bringing them over his head before throwing the ball to home plate. The move paid off for him yesterday and it will be interesting to see if he tinkers with it some more before his next start and if he can provide another quality start for the Jays as they try and stay competitive in the playoff hunt.
The Blue Jays needed a strong start from their prized trade deadline acquisition and Jose Berrios delivered in a big way. Hopefully, he can keep the momentum going to finish the campaign, as the Blue Jays’ dreams of making the playoffs are hanging on by a thread and they will need the most out of their roster if they want to play October baseball this year.