Blue Jays: All eyes will be on José Berríos ahead of Wednesday's start

World Baseball Classic Pool D: Venezuela v Puerto Rico
World Baseball Classic Pool D: Venezuela v Puerto Rico / Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/GettyImages

Nobody is more upset with the year José Berríos put together in 2022 than he is. The 28-year-old had easily the worst season of his seven-year career, posting a 5.23 ERA (74 ERA+) and 4.55 FIP in 32 starts. Strikeouts were down and he led the American League in home runs and hits allowed.

Earlier in the offseason, I had the chance to speak with him about some of the changes he made and how this offseason was different than ones in the past. He was on a mission to find his mojo on the mound and become the ace-level pitcher he once was with the Twins.

So here we are, inching closer and closer to Opening Day 2023 and Berríos has looked so-so on the mound so far between Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic.

In spring games for the Jays, he made two starts before leaving for the WBC. He surrendered seven hits and two earned runs (3.60 ERA) in five innings of working, striking out four and walking two. Nothing to write home about, but also not terrible.

Joining Team Puerto Rico in the WBC was meant to be a trial run for Berríos. It was an opportunity to show off his mechanical adjustments on a national stage against the most talented baseball players in the world. However, he made one start for Puerto Rico, allowing six earned runs on five hits, failing to record a single out in the second inning before being removed from the game.

His typically strong breaking ball wasn't breaking, the command on his fastball was nowhere to be found, and the player who seemed so eager to perform in the upcoming season failed to - well, perform.

All eyes will be on the $131M man as he makes what could be the final start of his Spring Training (although he may get one more opportunity next week, that remains to be seen). Sure, results in the preseason are to be taken with a grain of salt, but he needs a strong showing in Wednesday's game to perhaps quiet not only the naysayers, but his own voice in his head.

Berríos is one of the kindest athletes you'll ever meet. He is honest with himself about how last year went and used his hard working, go-getter attitude to make some adjustments over the offseason. He's got (at least) one more shot to put these tools to work, let's hope he can make it count before the regular season starts.

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