Blue Jays: Can Jose Berrios turn his season around?
This weekend the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their homestand with a weekend series against the Al-Central leading Minnesota Twins.
Although the team has gotten hot recently, winning eight straight, their Opening Day starter, Jose Berrios, is still looking to get on track this season.
Perhaps facing the Twins, the team Berrios spent the first five-plus years of his career with, will provide the kind of shot-in-the-arm that could propel him to a gem, the kind of game that can turn a season around.
Blue Jays: No Way Jose?
When the Jays traded for Berrios last July, he was supposed to be the centrepiece of a rotation that also included Hyun-Jin Ryu and the emerging flamethrower, Alek Manoah. The price wasn’t cheap as Toronto surrendered two of their top prospects in Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson.
Signing Berrios to a seven-year, $131 million extension before this season ensured that he would be a key part of the pitching staff for the next several years.
To say his 2022 season got off to a rough start would be a massive understatement. In front of a packed house of rabid Jays fans, Berrios gave up four earned runs while recording just a single out. Obviously, things have gotten a bit better since then, including a pair of seven-inning outings, but the poor starts have been far too frequent.
Besides his first opening day debacle, Berrios has given up at least five earned runs in three other starts. All of those instances occurred in the month of May when he had an ERA of 7.01.
A look at some of the available advanced statistics doesn’t paint a very flattering picture either. He’s among the team leaders (in a bad way) in sweet spot percentage (41.2), average exit velocity (91.6), and hard-hit percentage (47.1).
The mark of a great pitcher is the ability to grind through five or six innings even when the good stuff isn’t there. Lately, when Berrios hasn’t had his good stuff going, he’s looked completely overmatched on the mound.
Fortunately, the staff has been anchored by Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah, two venerable aces who are both deservedly receiving early Cy Young award consideration.
However, the staff is also dealing with the absence of Ryu due to injury and the ongoing inconsistencies of Yusei Kikuchi. This means the team needs Berrios to perform like the ace he’s been paid to be.