Fresh off a seven-year extension with the Blue Jays this past offseason, Jose Berrios was heading into the 2022 campaign as one of the main starters in the rotation alongside Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, and newly signed pitchers Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi.
Acquired at the trade deadline last season, Berrios posted a 3.58 ERA through 12 starts while striking out 78 batters to the tune of a 10.0 K/9 as a member of the Jays. He finished just behind Robbie Ray for most innings pitched in the AL at 192.0 (split between Minnesota and Toronto) while holding opponents to a .223 batting average on the year.
Manager Charlie Montoyo decided to give Berrios the Opening Day start at home against the Texas Rangers to begin the 2022 campaign, and as I am sure most Blue Jays fans are aware, things went south really quickly.
The right-hander could not get out of the first inning and allowed four earned runs, two walks, and one home run with just one out recorded before being pulled. He then followed up that performance in New York by going five innings and surrendering six hits and three earned runs, seeing his ERA balloon to 11.81 two games into the season. The Puerto Rican product followed these two outings with a few solid starts to finish out April but struggled in May, allowing 20 earned runs through five appearances and 25.2 collective innings pitched.
Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios struggled through the month of May but has two quality starts under his belt in June, hopefully, a sign of things to come as the season keeps moving forward.
Things were starting to look rough for the veteran starter, as opponents were seeing his pitches well and putting the ball in play, owning a collective .296 batting average at the end of May. It was starting to look like the Jays’ coaching staff was going to have to tinker with his mechanics or maybe a phantom IL stint (which would be the first of his career) to get his mind and body back on track.
Berrios then made his first start in June last weekend against the Minnesota Twins and he put forward not only one of his strongest outings of the season but set a new career-best in the process. He went 7.0 innings and allowed two earned runs off three hits and two walks but struck out 13 Angels batters, a new career-high for the former Twins ace. This was an obvious step in the right direction and one that hopefully was the righting of the ship that Berrios needed to get back on track. Last night, he continued this trend and went 8.0 innings against the Detroit Tigers and gave up just one earned run while striking out five batters and looked to have a real chance of making it to the ninth inning until he ran into some trouble in the eighth inning that drove up his pitch count.
While his Baseball Savant page is still littered with low percentiles across various metrics, the fact that Berrios is limiting the damage and finding some swing and miss in his game is a positive on many fronts, especially with Ryu on the IL for what could be a considerable amount of time. Having him pitching well alongside the rest of the rotation can have benefits when it comes to bullpen management and keeping the Blue Jays in ballgames, hopefully moving away from close one-run games and giving the relief pitchers some breathing room late in the game.
His next scheduled start will be back at the Rogers Centre with the struggling Baltimore Orioles coming into town, hopefully giving him another opportunity to pitch deep and gain some additional confidence after these past two quality starts.