Toronto Blue Jays: 2021 Positive Takes from the Bump

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 11: Hyun Jin Ryu #99 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 11, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 11: Hyun Jin Ryu #99 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 11, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

As the postseason is making its way to World Series mode, the Toronto Blue Jays are probably figuring out free agency details.  With pitching being a topic, we need to know what we had this past season in order to figure out what we need.

The Blue Jays had a positive year on the mound, regardless of the year’s outcome.  Some will say we were weak, some will say we had one of the strongest rotations in the league. However, as we head into free agency, it is important that we reflect on what we had in 2021.

A look at the Blue Jays Key Pitching Pieces in 2021

The Man of the Year, LHP Robbie Ray

For the first time in a long time, a Blue Jays pitcher whose name was in the same sentence as “CY Young”. Absolutely our most dominant arm.  His starts were intensive, somewhat of a slightly watered-down version of a Roy Halladay outing.  He was a strikeout machine, with 248 on the year.  Things worked for this guy; his command was on point, with a good tempo, pace, and consistency in delivery and effectiveness of off-speed.  He worked quick with good flow, similar to Mark Buehrle. Ray finished the year with a 13-7 record with a 2.84 ERA over 193.1 innings. The southpaw will be a hot take on the market, with various teams including the AL East rival, New York Yankees, and National League, New York Mets, desperately needing pitching.

The Monster, LHP Hyun Jin Ryu

It was a battle of a year for the Blue Jays big southpaw.  Ryu shoved, with 4 wins above a .500 record, going 14-10 on the year. He threw 169 innings, despite having 4 separate stints on the injured list between April 28th and September 28th. For the most part, Ryu’s repertoire was effective, however, it was 0 or 99 for the lefty, depending on the day. With hopes of rest, rehab, and recovery, 2022 should be a better year.

Pride of West Virginia, RHP Alek Manoah

The kid I scouted for over a year; the Blue Jays selected his contract in late May and he made his big-league debut shortly after. Manoah looked Major League seasoned already.  The intensity, energy, and thump he brought to the pitching staff were exactly what we envisioned.  His stuff was powerful and promising to be a reliable starter next year.  Manoah went 9-2, threw 111.2 innings with a 3.22 ERA.  Strong room for offseason polishing.

As we head into free agency and the offseason, let’s review the Blue Jays key pitching pieces in 2021.

Former NY Met, LHP Steven Matz

Matz, traded over from the New York Mets before Spring Training, was a toss-up (according to Mets fanbase). The left-hander held his own this season, winning 14 strong, losing 7 in 150.2 innings.  He was decently consistent with good use of his weapons. The 30-year-old exceeded the expectations for this season; definitely may be a needed piece in the rotation for 2022.

They call him “La Makina”, RHP Jose Berrios

The Blue Jays foresaw a chance to gain a playoff berth, which is why the front office made a move in late July to add Berrios to the rotation. The Blue Jays shipped off their 2020 1st round pick to Minnesota to secure this deal.  How did Berrios look? In the beginning, things were a bit shaky. It took him some time to settle, to which he started to look like the Berrios that Minnesota put their faith into. He finished 12-9 on the year with a 3.52 ERA.  Regardless of what the numbers say, he provided some quality innings in September for the Blue Jays.  This is an arm that will be key in any postseason run to come.

The 9th Inning Stopper, RHP Jordan Romano

I’ve sat through my ups and downs in the 9th inning. I can name them; Billy Koch, Terry Adams, Jason Fraser, Justin Speier, Kevin Gregg, Miguel Batista, Casey Janssen, Roberto Osuna, Ken Giles.  The Blue Jays drafted, developed, and promoted a closer, whom we’ve seen grow into one of the establishments.  Jordan Romano, from the 2014 draft, into Tommy John surgery, to finding the strike zone, to reducing walks, and now, the go-to stopper for the Blue Jays.

Next. Address the bullpen this offseason to improve playoff chances. dark

Romano finished the year with a 7-1 winning record, more importantly doing his job and saving 23 games, with 85 strikeouts, a 2.14 ERA over 63.0 innings.  I watched this kid start with a squat and replace it with a semi-Marcus Stroman shimmy, delivering an average of 97mph, touching 101mph on his fastball.  I’ve seen him with Mariano Rivera type confidence to throw 3 straight sliders to strike out a hitter on 3 pitches.  Finding a closer is like finding affordable housing in the City of Toronto; despite work that needs to be done, the Blue Jays have found their stopper.