3 positive and 2 worrisome signs on the Blue Jays one quarter into the season
By Edward Eng
Just One Not Like the Other
Being the AL Cy Young finalist in 2022, much more was expected from Alek Manoah in 2023. Unfortunately, it had been a nightmarish season so far for Manoah, as he had looked nothing like his dominant self from the previous two years. Outside of just one start against the Kansas City Royals and one against the New York Yankees, he had posted uncharacteristic numbers in all of his starts, leading to an ERA of 5.40, and an ERA+ of 79, which were both way off his career averages. In addition, he is currently struggling greatly with his command, walking 32 batters in just 45 innings pitched, ballooning his WHIP close to a gaudy 1.8.
Each of the other four in the starting rotation has had their hiccups this season, but in most part, they have all worked themselves around or out of them in due time. For the Jays to have a dependable, solid five-man rotation each time out, they will eventually need Manoah to work out his troubles soon before inexplicably becoming the weakest link in the rotation, which one would not have ever envisioned before the start of this season.
Bullpen Cogs or Bullpen Coughs
Outside of Erik Swanson, Tim Mayza, and the recently promoted Nate Pearson, the Jays’ bullpen overall had been quite inconsistent at times throughout the season. This included both trusted set-up man Yimi García and closer Jordan Romano. Last season, both García and Romano formed the one-two punch in finishing off many games, leading the Jays to victory. This was exemplified by García’s 23 holds with only 4 blown saves and Romano’s 36 saves in 42 opportunities all of last season. Even when Romano sometimes appeared to get into trouble, we had the confidence that despite always providing the scare, he would usually end up working his way out of it to lock down the game, time and time again.
However, this year has been a different story. Both García and Romano have blown two saves each only a month and a half into the season, and with García in particular no longer providing the steadiness he displayed from last year as he currently has a 4.82 ERA to go along with a 1.34 WHIP, and ERA+ of 90. In addition, Romano has posted his highest numbers in three years, currently sporting a 3.38 ERA, and a 1.19 WHIP. Also, his ERA+ of 128 is still respectable, but a far cry from his 200 he averaged the previous two years. In addition, he no longer looks uber confident in getting out of any jams that he created like he used to. For longer term success for the Jays in 2023, they will need both of these key bullpen cogs to be more consistent to stabilize the rest of the relief corps; otherwise, more games may eventually be lost down the road.