Determining the keys to success for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays

Mar 15, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Daulton Varsho (25) signs
Mar 15, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Daulton Varsho (25) signs / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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MLB Rule Change – Pitch Clock

Heading into the 2023 season, three new league-wide rules have been implemented to help with increasing the flow to the game, as well as creating more potential action for the players and the fans.  This includes the usage of larger bases, a pitch clock, and defensive shift restrictions.  Of these rules, the pitch clock can potentially have the most effect on the Jays’ pitching staff.

By implementing the pitch clock, pitchers are now forced to deliver pitches at a more rapid rate, with less down time between pitches and batters.  For younger pitchers that haven’t pitched that long in their career yet, like Alek Manoah, the adjustment may be minimal and easier.  However, for older, veteran pitchers, like Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt, this may pose an issue. 

Veteran pitchers typically have developed habits and grown into a routine over the years that makes them pitch effectively.  Having them suddenly change their daily habits and pitch faster could potentially lead to greater fatigue, due to the fact that there is less rest time.  In addition, they could require an adjustment period, or even worse, may even need to change their pitching mechanics to make up for the adjustment.  This is kind of equivalent to say, every day, you take 10 minutes to shower every morning and you have been doing it for many years.  Now you have to do it in five minutes total, so how effectively you will be clean and how tiring it may be to rush those five minutes to get everything done may be an issue. 

Early results from Spring Training have proven promising for Gausman; in fact, he seemed even better than before, not allowing an earned run and striking out 18 over 13.2 innings pitched. However, Bassitt appears to be struggling a bit, yielding an ERA above 5 and a WHIP over 1.4, which are both substantially above his career averages. Hopefully that it is mainly due to his short term adjustments to the pitch clock and not something that will hinder his effectiveness from here on. So how well all of the veteran pitchers on the Jays’ staff can adjust to the pitch timer and be effective at the same time will ultimately determine the Jays’ pitching success.