As the 2022 season rolled along, it became clear that the Toronto Blue Jays had one of the best one-two punches atop their rotation.
Alek Manoah built on his impressive rookie season, was even more dominant last year, was recognized as a Cy Young finalist, and was named to the All-MLB team. Kevin Gausman had a rock-solid 2022 campaign after signing a big free-agent contract and the consensus is, he can be even better in 2023 with even league-average BABIP numbers.
But where do these two studs stand among the best pitching duos in baseball?
While there’s no doubt that Manoah and Gausman are among the best starting pitcher tandems around, where they rank and how that’s been affected by a fiery hot stove season deserves a closer look.
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the New York Yankees made headlines by signing Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324M contract. They doubled down on their investment this offseason by inking Carlos Rodón to a six-year, $162 million deal. It may have taken a half billion dollars, but the Bronx Bombers may have the best starting pitcher duo in the American League.
Staying in the division, the Rays’ Shane McClanahan started the All-Star Game last year and Tyler Glasnow was on track to do the same in 2021 before Tommy John surgery ended his season. They may not be better than Manaoh and Gausman, but it’s close.
Dylan Cease of the White Sox is coming off a breakout season but combining him with either Lucas Giolitio or Lance Lynn may come in just below the Jays' top two starters.
Out west, the Houston Astros lost a big part of their championship DNA when Justin Verlander signed with the Mets. Framber Valdez and Christian Javier form an imposing pairing, but not necessarily a superior one.
The Texas Rangers have been spending at an astronomical rate to try to improve their club. There’s no doubt adding Jacob DeGrom to their team makes them more legitimate, but his injury history and the lack of a second dominant arm on that staff have them behind the other boys in blue.
In the National League, you have the Mets with Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Braves with Max Fried and Kyle Wright and the Marlins Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López are all considered better than Manoah/Gausman or close to it.
The Brewers, with Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, and the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw and whoever the number two is between Julio Urias, Walker Buehler or Tony Gonsolin, are also thought of to be among the best.
So, in conclusion, the Blue Jays have a starting duo that’s somewhere in the top 10 in the majors, and probably closer to the top five. With the signing of Chris Bassitt and the expected improvement of José Berríos , the entire rotation may soon find itself in a similar standing.