2) Kevin Gausman
Admittedly, the 2023 season didn't end on the best of notes for Kevin Gausman. He allowed a trio of hit, walks and earned runs in just 4.0 innings versus the Twins as he just struggled generally, to be tagged with the loss in Game 1 of the Wild Card round.
Overall though, you can't deny Gausman had a tremendous year in Toronto, as the Blue Jays' best starter in the rotation. His first two seasons with the team, have more than justified the decision to sign him to a five-year, $110 million deal.
In fact, the 32-year-old still seems to be improving, even after 11 seasons in the Majors. Along these lines, the 2023 campaign was one of his best yet.
It was very rare the opposition would get to Gausman, with him only allowing more than three earned runs in six of his 31 starts. As a result, he legitimately put himself in the conversation for the AL Cy Young Award.
There were plenty of standout performances for the 2010 fourth overall draft pick in 2023. However, on his way to his second All-Star selection, there were two in particular which stood out.
The first was an early-season outing versus the Mariners, who had knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Gausman allowed just six hits and one walk in 7.0 shutout innings while throwing a season-high 13 strikeouts, as the Blue Jays needed extra innings to win 1-0.
The other standout performance came versus the Astros, as the righty gave up just four hits and no walks in another 7.0 shutout innings, while equaling his season-high 13 Ks. It's also worth noting he threw well versus the Yankees, allowing just three combined runs (two earned) in four starts against the divisional rivals.
Come season's end, Gausman finished with an AL and career-high 237 strikeouts, while recording the second-best ERA and FIP of his time in the Majors. Even allowing for some concern that he might have peaked in 2023, he was certainly one of the Blue Jays' bright spots in a challenging year.