3 Blue Jays who need to be better in May

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Despite coming out of the gate with their third best start to the season in franchise history, there were quite a few Toronto Blue Jays players that struggled during the month of April. Some were as expected, but others came as a total surprise given their performance track record. The following three players will likely need to step up their game in the coming month in order for the Jays to continue to maintain their winning ways.

Alek Manoah

Coming off a Cy Young-caliber year in 2022, which was also preceded by a dominant rookie season in 2021, many were expecting more of the same, or even more, from Alek Manoah in 2023. In preseason projections by FanGraphs, many were predicting that he would regress to an ERA above 3.50, in addition to a drastic increase in home runs, which left many Jays fans in disbelief. However, six starts into the season now, he is sporting a 4.88 ERA and have given up five home runs already (his previous rate in his career was about one home run every two games). Even more worrisome is his inconsistency with his control and command, leading to an abnormal amount of walks compared to his standards.

Manoah has had a couple of dominant outings mixed into his rocky starts, but he has certainly not looked like his usual self. He will need to show this coming month that he can overcome his inconsistency and not be the weakest link in the rotation, with most of the other four having turned a corner in the latter half of April. He will get his first chance to do so against their division rivals the Boston Red Sox this week.

Yimi García

Back in the 2021 offseason, the Jays signed reliever Yimi García to a two-year deal with a club option for an additional season. The Jays primarily used García as the bridge to closer Jordan Romano, as he would mainly see action in the 7th or 8th innings, and also to potentially be the secondary option as the closer on days when Romano was unavailable. He did an admirable job in 2022 in that role, pitching in 61 games, with a 3.10 ERA and 1.05 WHIP to go along with 58 strikeouts in 61 innings.

However, 13 games into the 2023 season, García has encountered the Jekyll and Hyde conundrum. His outings were either practically spotless with strikeouts to boot, or he would give up hard contact and multiple runs in the process. In doing so, his ERA has almost doubled from the previous year, sitting at 6.08, and has blown two saves already after blowing only four saves the entire season last year. García will need to regain the manager’s confidence soon to be deployed any further in high leverage situations.

George Springer

It’s hard to believe that with the pedigree of George Springer that we would be talking about him needing to be better. But he has gotten off to a slow start in 2023, and is currently on pace for a .225 average, 17 home runs, 58 RBI year, which is far below his career numbers. Other than a stretch between April 8th to April 14th, for the rest of the month, he has gone 12-for-78 with no homers with only five runs scored, four walks and four RBI.

It may have seemed minor at the time, but to think about it carefully, perhaps some of his injuriessustained near the end of last year (concussion, strained left shoulder, right elbow bone spur) have some lingering effects on him that has dragged into this year, so he may need a little more time to get back to being himself. Also of note is that he has had two rest days so far this year and each time coming off the rest day, he would have a string of games with decent production. So a good strategy to have an effective Springer for May might be to give him a little rest from time to time in the schedule to recharge him.

All three players have been key contributors for the Jays in previous years, so having them back and going again for May will be critical for their long term success.