4 biggest question marks the second-half Blue Jays will have

The Blue Jays entered the All-Star break in a wild card spot, but there is still plenty of uncertainty when it comes to being assured of a playoff place at the end of the 2023 regular season.
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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When it comes to professional sports, it's often a case of perception being reality. The Blue Jays are a classic example of this.

On the one hand, the Blue Jays entered the All-Star Break in a wild card spot. In addition, their 50-41 record is better than at the same time last year, albeit just by virtue of two fewer losses (50-43).

At the same time however, the Blue Jays' record is still perceived as underwhelming, especially when considering the talent on the seventh-highest payroll in the Majors. In addition, their hold on the third and final AL wild card spot is extremely tenuous.

In this respect, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the ballclub. We consider four questions, where the answers will help determine if they will be a playoff team come the end of the regular season:

How will they fill out the rotation?

The Blue Jays' rotation has been quietly effective so far in 2023. They are tied-eighth in the Majors with a 3.98 ERA and tied-10th with a .244 opposing batting average.

One factor helping this, is the rotation's durability. Not a single start has been missed due to injury, resulting in the Blue Jays ranking fifth with a combined 499.2 innings.

What makes the overall productivity even more impressive, is that the Blue Jays have achieved all this without a reliable fifth option. This has mostly been down to Alek Manoah's unexpected implosion, along with no experienced quality backup options.

Moving forward, there is still uncertainty surrounding the rotation. Chris Bassitt has been erratic of late, and there is still some concern -- no matter how unfair -- that Yusei Kikuchi could revert to his unreliable self at any point.

Yes, Manoah looked strong in his first start since returning to the Majors, but it was just against the Tigers. It is still unclear if he will return to last year's All-Star form, or pitch more like this season's disastrous version.

Another option could potentially be Hyun-jin Ryu, who is currently going through rehab assignments in the Minors. However, pending his return, how much can you count on a pitcher who has been a significant disappointment for the majority of his Blue Jays tenure?

With all this said, the best move might still be to consider any one of a number of trade options prior to the Aug. 1 deadline. There's certainly some intriguing starters to target, including Shane Bieber, Eduardo Rodríguez and maybe even a certain Marcus Stroman.