Predicting the next Blue Jays pitcher to throw a complete game
It has been quite a few years since the Toronto Blue Jays had a starting pitcher throw a complete game. While technically Hyun Jin Ryu was the last pitcher to do so last season, it was not a full nine-innings, as the left-hander only had to pitch seven as the game was the first of a doubleheader on July 18th against the Texas Rangers.
The last Blue Jays pitcher to go a full nine innings was Marcus Stroman back in 2017, where the fiery right-hander actually had two that season. The first was against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 12th where he earned the loss after giving up two earned runs off seven hits and the second would be a couple of weeks later on April 23rd against the Angels, where Stroman earned the win and allowed just one earned run off seven hits. For a complete game shutout, the last instance for the Jays occurred back in 2015 with veteran Mark Buerhle on the mound. The left-hander tossed nine scoreless innings while allowing just six hits while striking out two against the Washington Nationals.
That being said, the current Blue Jays rotation has had a few members flirt with the possibility of a complete game this season but has yet to fully go the distance. Kevin Gausman was the closest of the group back on April 21st against Boston, where he started the ninth inning but was pulled for Jordan Romano when a runner got on base. Right-hander Alek Manoah has also flirted with the nine-inning mark but has yet to break the threshold, pleading with Charlie Montoyo and Pete Walker on May 21st against the Cincinnati Reds to let him close out the game, a battle he eventually lost in favour of Romano coming in to close out the game.
Overall, the Blue Jays’ current rotation does have a bit of a track record when it comes to throwing a complete game (full nine innings) but has not done so in quite a few years:
Jose Berrios: 4 (last done in 2021 with the Minnesota Twins)
Hyun Jin Ryu: 3 (last done in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers)
Yusei Kikuchi: 1 (last done in 2019 with the Seattle Mariners)
Kevin Gausman: 1 (last done in 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles)
Alek Manoah: 0
The Blue Jays have not had a starting pitcher throw a complete nine-inning game since Marcus Stroman did so back in 2017.
While the days of Dave Stieb and Roy Halladay completing games day in and day out are long gone, the question still remains: Who will be the next Blue Jays starter to go the full nine innings?
With Ryu back on the IL with an arm injury and Kikuchi having yet to go past 6.0 innings or 91 pitches, I would say these two are less likely at this time to throw a complete game anytime soon. If Kikuchi can reel in the base on balls and stop getting into difficult situations, albeit driving up his pitch count, then he could find himself in the complete game conversation. It should also be worth noting that the left-hander did have 15 complete games in the Nippon Professional Baseball league prior to signing with the Mariners.
Berrios in a normal season would be ranking high on the list given his healthy injury history and ability to throw lots of innings but this year has been a struggle for the right-hander. He currently sports a 5.62 ERA and while he has gone 7.0 innings twice this season, the likelihood of him being the next complete game pitcher for the Blue Jays is possible but should be on the back burner considering his recent stats as of late. The Puerto Rican product has touched the 100 pitch mark this season which is encouraging but I would think it is more important right now for him to find a groove on the mound and pitch well rather than worry about going a full nine-innings.
This leaves both Gausman and Manoah, two pitchers with a bulldog mentality on the mound who quite frankly could both be argued as the next complete game pitcher in a Jays uniform.
Gausman mixes up his pitches well and is the only Jays starter to at least make the ninth inning mark this season, while also surpassing the 100 pitch mark twice this season already. Manoah also enters the conversation because of how he just attacks hitters in the box and continues to pitch deep into ballgames but has yet to break the 100-pitch mark. I loved his passion for trying to finish the game against Cincinnati and I was really hoping Montoyo and Walker would let him at least try to close out the game similar to how Gausman was given a chance against the Red Sox but the club had other plans.
This upcoming month could be a prime opportunity for either Gausman or Manoah to find a groove and go deep into their starts, as the Blue Jays begin a schedule that will face some struggling teams after this weekend series against Minnesota in the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Baltimore Orioles.
All three latter clubs rank low in the league in terms of OPS and OBP and if the Jays’ pitching staff can keep them in check and stay out of trouble, the chances will be there to pitch deep into ballgames and chase the elusive complete game stat that has been five years in the making.