Toronto Blue Jays News

Toronto Blue Jays: The Rebuild from 2018 to Now

Evan Gignac
Sep 29, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) hugs first baseman Justin Smoak (14) after hitting a double against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) hugs first baseman Justin Smoak (14) after hitting a double against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /
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Blue Jays
Sep 19, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada (25) looks on in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

Rotation

2018: Marco Estrada, Sam Gaviglio, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman

How about this group? If this was two years prior the Jays would be sitting pretty, however, in 2018, this group was less than desirable. Injury-plagued seasons from Estrada, Sanchez, and Stroman led to an extremely disappointing year. The lowest ERA between the three of them was Sanchez’s mark of 4.89. The writing was on the wall for Estrada, as his back issues loomed larger than before. Aaron Sanchez’s blister and fingernail issues were prevalent and began derailing his career. Stroman just couldn’t find health or consistency, throwing only 102.1 innings in 2018.

The two most successful pitchers, Happ and Gaviglio, had two varying seasons. Happ was shipped to the Yankees at the trade deadline for a lacklustre package of Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney. Gaviglio, meanwhile, pounded the strike zone and stayed healthy, somehow making him a standout in this miserable season.

The rotation was subpar and disappointing. This was a trend that would continue the following year.

2019: Stroman, Trent Thornton, Sanchez, Jacob Waguespack, Clay Buchholz

Stroman had a much-needed rebound year. His 2.96 ERA over 124.2 innings led to an All-Star appearance before his trade to the New York Mets at the deadline. On the other end of the spectrum, Sanchez and Clay Buchholz had a plethora of injury problems and threw a combined 171.2 innings. Sanchez was also shipped at the deadline to the Houston Astros alongside relief pitcher Joe Biagini.

The only real consistency came from Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Both managed to stay healthy and keep the Blue Jays in games. Despite this, neither would have real impacts in the following shortened season.

Blue Jays
Sep 2, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) delivers a pitch in the 4th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

2020: Hyun Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, Taijuan Walker

Newcomer Hyun Jin Ryu was the guy this year. In the prior offseason, they signed him to a 4 year, $80 million deal, and he was more than worth it in 2020. He pitched to a 3.01 FIP while accruing a 2.9 WAR, the 7th best in the MLB as per Baseball Reference. Taijuan Walker was another new addition, acquired at the trade deadline from the Seattle Mariners. Through 6 starts with the Blue Jays, he pitched to a 1.37 ERA. The pitchers under these two left a bit to be desired.

Matt Shoemaker was on the shelf for most of the season while Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson had a 6.80 and 7.22 ERA respectively. The lack of rotation depth proved to be the downfall for the Blue Jays in 2020. The competitive offence just could not keep up with the poor pitching. Improvements were needed.

2021: Ryu, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Alek Manoah, Jose Berrios

The Blue Jays entered 2021 with a solid rotation but didn’t anticipate a lot of the success which actually transpired. While Ryu was inconsistent, Robbie Ray won the AL  Cy Young award after signing a one-year deal in the prior offseason. Alek Manoah broke out as a rookie and exceeded all expectations. Jose Berrios was acquired at the deadline and pitched like an ace down the stretch. Matz was acquired in the trade before the season began and had a solid comeback year, acting as a stabilizing force at the backend of the rotation.

The rotation came together and turned into one of the best in baseball. A few of them will be returning next season, as we take a peek of what to expect.

2022: Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Ryu, Manoah, Ross Stripling

What a solid four arms to bring into 2022. Jose Berrios is a workhorse, Ryu has been an ace and will be looking to bounce back, and Manoah is a beast at only 24 years of age. They also bring in Kevin Gausman, coming off an All-Star season that saw him lead the league in games started (33) and post a 2.81 ERA. This makes for one of the best rotations in baseball. We are in for a good year of pitching from the Blue Jays, and the rotation has truly come a long way through both player development and acquisitions.

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