Opening Day is right on the corner, and players are trying to make the roster. For baseball fans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s not December, but it’s Christmas in April. Baseball is back.
As for the Blue Jays, their starting rotation is solid. What will the starting rotation look like for Opening Weekend?
Hmm, let’s take a look at some of the details. Jose Berrios will and should be the Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays. It won’t be the last if he is the number one starter. Why? Look at his contract, as he signed a seven-year, $131 million extension in November. Things can change with time if he doesn’t live up to the contract, but until then, he has the support from the Jays, and Puerto Ricans will be cheering him on all season, starting with Opening Day.
Kevin Gausman, who signed a five-year, $110 million contract, will be the No. 2 starter. The decision might not sit well with Gausman or the people around his camp. The right-hander did produce better numbers than Jose Berrios last season. Let’s compare both pitchers:
Jose Berrios: 12-9, 3.52 ERA, 204 strikeouts
Kevin Gausman: 14-6, 2.81 ERA, 227 strikeouts
It’s clear that Gausman was the better pitcher between the two last season and was a crucial player in the San Francisco Giants’ success. Gausman can be the No. 1 option on some teams. The Blue Jays making Berrios the Opening Day starter won’t be a horrible decision. He’s younger and has the potential to set the tone early in the season. The pitcher is the one person on the field that can control the game.
35-year-old Hyun Jin Ryu is probably the No. 3 option for the Blue Jays’ starting rotation. Ryu won 14 games last season and is still one of the talented veteran pitchers in baseball. Most Blue Jays fans are still excited to have him on the team.
Who will be the number four and five pitchers to join the starting rotation? I’m looking at Alex Manoah as the fourth option and Yusei Kikuchi as the fifth option. Manoah has a promising career. He doesn’t look the least bit timid, and has great stuff. The game that impressed me from Manoah was against the Yankees last season. He silenced their offence by striking out seven Yankee hitters through five scoreless innings, and you could see the hunger in his pitches. I love seeing that type of positive energy. Manoah reminds me of Jose Fernandez in that regard.
Yusei Kikuchi is a good pitcher, and I believe he will get better with the Blue Jays. The Mariners not extending his contract could be a blessing in disguise for him because they probably won’t use him right going forward. Kikuchi got the Blue Jays’ attention when he pitched his first career complete game shut out against them at Rogers Centre. Getting rid of that double leg kick might help him a lot. He speeds his delivery up and increases the deception, and he has good fastball velocity.
With five strong MLB calibre arms in the rotation, the Blue Jays are in an enviable spot to start the 2022 season.