Blue Jays: 2023 projected starting rotation and each starter's most effective pitch
The 2023 Toronto Blue Jays enter the New Year with high expectations across the diamond. A very notable topic as we approach pitchers and catchers report, as well as spring training, is the potential starting rotation.
On paper, the Blue Jays possess a one of a kind starting staff, which appears very competitive and stern, to battle the American League East. Toronto missed out on some serious ammunition in starting pitchers this offseason; names included Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodón, amongst others. However, the signing of former New York Met, Chris Bassitt, was more than enough to be satisfied with.
The 2022 Blue Jays worked a pitching staff through injury and struggle, and managed to slip their way into October postseason baseball. If they had moved on to the Divisional Series, the arms would not be sufficient to battle their way through. Looking towards 2023, the rotation could be built for playoff success if the team makes a run, and if the staff maintains health and consistency. So far, the Blue Jays will enter spring training on a healthy clean state; what could this rotation look like?
Blue Jays potential 2023 starting rotation and pitch arsenal
1. RHP ALEK MANOAH
Without a doubt, Manoah is your go-to starter. He’s transpired to be the face of the Blue Jays pitching staff, complemented by the veterans and other talent which surround him. Manoah has that Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens and Marcus Stroman feel, where you know each start will be approached with complete competitiveness and high energy. He still has some refining to do, including better usage of pitch options, and improvement on his mental game and composure. Manoah is a big game pitcher, and will be your No. 1 choice to go deep into a game with multiple dependable offerings. Manoah finished 2022 with a 2.24 ERA, 180 K, 51 BB, 196.2 IP, going 16-7.
Aside from his well-commanded high-heater fastball, Manoah’s most effective pitch is his slider, which was executed the 2nd most, at 27.1% usage, 798 pitches, averaging 81.5mph, and a put away percentage of 20.6%.
2. RHP KEVIN GAUSMAN
Gausman could easily be the No. 1 guy in the rotation. His veteran experience, longevity and pitch repertoire speak for itself. He is also a big-game arm who brings full intensity and good use of his pitch options. Unlike Manoah, Gausman has been in the league for years, with advance scouting information readily available, and a known repertoire around the league. Manoah being first in the rotation creates confusion, due to the constant experimenting of his options; this throws off accurate advanced scouting. Gausman fits well into the 2-spot, and brings very competitive stuff with the ability to eat innings. He finished the year 12-10, 3.35 ERA, 205 K, 28 BB, 174.2 IP.
Gausman throws my favorite off-speed pitch, the splitter, which I think is his out-pitch. He’s relied on this pitch 34.8% of the time, for 969 pitches, which sits 85.2mph, and struck out 126 of his 205 strikeouts in 2022, with a 25.1% put away percentage.
3. RHP CHRIS BASSITT
Bassitt was the best pick up for the Blue Jays this offseason, as the pitching structure is a priority. He spent 2022 with the New York Mets, going an impressive 15-9, holding the Mets above all in the league, until the Wild Card downfall. Bassitt fits in great to the three spot in the rotation, providing experience and reliability in any given playoff series, especially in a potential Wild Card Game scenario. He is the best option for a do-or-die situation. Bassitt finished with a 3.42 ERA, 167 K, and 49 BB.
Bassitt has a wide repertoire with various off-speed options. He’s able to gas up to 97mph, and drop his hook in the late 70s, early 80s. He offers a cutter, slider, changeup, curveball, and fourseam fastball. It seems that his out-pitch and go-to option is his sinker, which he used 33.4% of the time for 965 pitches, and a 19.3% put away rate.
4. RHP JOSÉ BERRÍOS
Berríos can be one of the most effective arms on this staff is he stays zoned and consistent. He finished 2022 with a bit of struggle and an ugly ERA. It seemed that his fastball wasn’t well commanded nor was the confidence there to throw it often. It is clear that his out-pitch is his curveball, at 423 showings with 67 strikeouts, and a 2285 RPM. Berríos will have an early start this year with Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic; he should be in season form in no time, and will be a key part of this rotation.
5. LHP YUSEI KIKUCHI
Another struggling arm in 2022, who just didn’t seem to find his groove, and was not consistent. Kikuchi just didn’t know where he belonged, however, arsenal is truly competitive and he has reliable stuff for a spot in the starting rotation. He depends a ton on his fastball, which he was hurt a lot on; he needs to hit spots, and use his more effective option, the slider.
6. LHP HYUN JIN RYU
The starting five won’t automatically include the $80M man as of yet, until he’s deemed healthy and dependable. Ryu may have his workload monitored as a starter to mitigate his innings, and rehab his way back into longevity. His left-handed arsenal is a huge deal for this club to have, and they’ll be sure to squeeze him in the five-spot as a consistent starter once he’s ready to fully go.