3 biggest takeaways from the Blue Jays' 2024 opening series

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

The Blue Jays are 2-2 after their first series. Having taken place at Tropicana Field against the always competitive Tampa Bay Rays, most Blue Jays fans consider a split a victory in its own right. After four lopsided contests that saw the Jays take the opener 8-2, then drop game two in a 8-2 finish, lose a scrappier contest 5-1 in game three, then bounce back to steamroll the Rays 9-2 yesterday, there is a lot to unpack from the club’s performances.

Kevin Gausman is ready for 2024

The first topic of which has to be the dominance of Kevin Gausman, despite the uncertainty of whether or not he’d actually be ready for the start of the season. Dealing with shoulder fatigue early in camp, Gausman was adamant that he’d be ready to take the ball the first trip through the rotation.

Gausman’s confidence proved to be well founded, as he carved through the Rays lineup over a limited pitch count of 69. He allowed just two hits over 4.1 innings while striking out six and walking none. His last pitch of the game clocked in at 98, though it also came right into the side of Jose Siri resulting in a hit-by-pitch. This ended Gausman’s day, as he was relieved by Nate Pearson who promptly ended the inning.

Gausman brought excellent velocity and control to this outing, silencing any doubters. The Blue Jays ace appears primed for a big season.

Ernie Clement is ready for a larger role

The second point worth mentioning is that Ernie Clement is a legitimate big leaguer. The point is obvious, as he is currently a member of the 26-man roster. However, he’s proving he belongs there. Clement has carried over his strong spring and continued to put the bat on the ball, as he’s already 3-9 on the young season. He’s also impressed with the glove, making quite the play on a ball in the hole to end the seventh inning in yesterdays game.

With moments like these, Clement is pushing for more playing time in a crowded Blue Jays infield.

Vladdy's plate approach

The last notable takeaway from this weekend was the plate approach of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. Frequently falling victim to swinging at pitchers pitches last season, Vlad has been able to lay off pitches he can’t do damage on so far in 2024. This on theme with a team-wide approach enforced by offensive coordinator, Don Mattingly. Blue Jays hitters are encouraged to lay off anything they can’t do damage on, regardless of if it’s a strike or not. 

Vladdy has taken this to heart, laying off a multitude of pitches outside of his happy-zone and trying to avoid those flailing swings we saw a lot of last season. This approach is paying dividends already, as Guerrero has walked fives times and is sporting a .500 OBP through his first 18 plate appearances. 

Guerrero’s success hinges on whether or not this approach can be maintained. For now, it’s as good a start as the Blue Jays could’ve hoped for.