As we hit the midway mark of the MLB season, let’s take a closer look at how the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitchers have fared so far in their performances and expectations for 2023. Below are the report cards for every pitcher that have made a contribution to the big league club this year and that is still presently with the organization.
Alek Manoah: 2-7 W-L, 5.91 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 42 BB, 56 K
For Alek Manoah, it has been truly a disappointing season so far for the 2022 AL Cy Young finalist. Looking to build upon his stellar breakout year last year, Manoah has struggled mightily with his control and command for much of the season, resulting in an abnormally high number of walks, along with being hit hard by his opponents. This prolonged stretch of ineffectiveness persisted over many weeks, finally leading up to his eventual demotion to the minors in early June to work on his pitching mechanics. Now back once again with the big club, after an inspiring, promising start against the Detroit Tigers last Friday, Manoah hopes to build upon that momentum to turn around his season and put his troubles behind him for the upcoming second half of 2023.
Kevin Gausman: 7-5 W-L, 3.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 29 BB, 153 K
Kevin Gausman has taken upon the role as the Jays’ ace this year, providing much-needed consistency and reliability in the majority of his starts for 2023. Not only that, he has been purely dominant, with a strikeout rate that’s among the highest in his career and is on pace to break his personal record of 227 strikeouts set back in 2021 with the San Francisco Giants. If it wasn’t for the poor run support that he had been given all year, he probably would have been leading the league in wins by now. In recognition of his exceptional accomplishments, he was selected to the 2023 All-Star Game as well. For the Jays to have continued success, look for Gausman to remain on the top of his game for the rest of the season, leading the ballclub hopefully back into the playoffs once again.
Chris Bassitt: 8-5 W-L, 4.19 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 36 BB, 102 K
Chris Bassitt was signed by the Jays this past offseason to help offset the loss of Ross Stripling to free agency. This move has turned out to be paying huge dividends so far for the ballclub in the 2023 season. Bassitt has provided stability to the Jays’ starting rotation for much of the season, until his recent minor slump since mid-June. Nevertheless, he remains the only Blue Jay this year to produce a complete game shutout, something that hasn’t been accomplished since 2015 (for a nine-inning game). The All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time for him, as he can now get the necessary rest and reset needed for the stretch run and regain his steady form to help the team to success for the rest of the year.
José Berríos: 8-6 W-L, 3.50 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29 BB, 101 K
What a revelation José Berríos has become for the Jays in 2023. After producing his career worst numbers (outside of his debut rookie season in 2016) in 2022, he has had a huge bounce back season this year. Despite having a slow start to the season that resembled his troubles from the year’s past, he quickly turned it around and has become the second most reliable starter on the team just behind Gausman. With Berríos stepping up his game, it has helped ease the misfortunes of Manoah and has kept the ballclub afloat in the playoff chase in the tight AL East division.
Yusei Kikuchi: 7-3 W-L, 4.24 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 27 BB, 96 K
Speaking of bounce back seasons, Yusei Kikuchi has produced one of his own as well, after going through a horrendous season in 2022 in which he was relegated to the bullpen near the season’s end due to his inconsistency. Crediting his success to the newly implemented pitch clock so that he no longer had to think too much before every pitch, Kikuchi has been a solid force in the Jays’ rotation so far in 2023. However, one area of concern that still remains an eyesore is his susceptibility to the long ball, as he has given up 22 home runs already by the halfway mark of the season. In order for him to continue his success in the second half, he will definitely need to drastically improve in this area, before it ultimately becomes his own undoing.