Looking at the starting pitching, ZiPS projects Alek Manoah to have a solid season, contrary to Steamer's prediction. I think we'll all be happy if Manoah can, at the bare minimum, match the ZiPS projection for 181 IP with a 3.43 ERA, 177 SO, 124 ERA+, and a WAR of 3.9.
One thing to note is that this ZiPS release does not include the newly-acquired Chris Bassitt. In his write-up, Szymborski observes, "even if you subscribe to ZiPS' more optimistic Manoah projection, it still feels like the Jays need another starter." So with the arrival of Bassitt, we can check off that box.
Blue Jays fans probably don't want to hear about Yusei Kikuchi right now, so my apologies. But for what it's worth, ZiPS thinks he'll improve his ERA from 5.19 to 4.49 and rack up 113 SO through 110 innings and 21 starts. By comparison, Steamer thinks he'll pitch to a 3.87 ERA. So, there's that.
We'll finish with a peek at what could be in store for the bullpen. I was pleasantly surprised by Szymborski's assessment of the bullpen as having "a solid if unspectacular projection." While not exactly a ringing endorsement, I'll take it after the trials and tribulations over the past couple of seasons.
ZiPS projects hometown favorite Jordan Romano to have slight regression in his ERA, from 2.11 to 3.64, and his FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching), from 2.82 to 3.81.
I will point out, however, that the Jays' closer has outperformed his xERA and xFIP each of the past two seasons, so I'm not overly concerned. The projection also pegs him to slightly elevate his K/9 rate to 10.6 from 10.27.
So, what can we conclude about the 2023 Blue Jays? We know that the team should be competitive again. And while it's fun to analyze projections, remember that they are just that...projections. So don't take them too seriously. Inevitably, some players will outperform them, some will underperform them, and some will end up fairly close.