Jose Berrios could take a big step forward in 2024

This Blue Jays pitcher had a great resurgence in 2023. Can he keep it going next year?

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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Jose Berrios will soon be taking part in his fourth season with the Toronto Blue Jays, and he's certainly ran into plenty of highs and lows in that span. When he was acquired at the trade deadline in 2021, he tapped into some of his best potential, followed up by the worst season of his career since being a rookie. He had a fantastic bounce back just last year, but what can be expected for Berrios going forward? Can he build off of what he just did even stronger?

The Jays are in a good position with their starting rotation. Kevin Gausman leading the way as the team ace, Chris Bassitt and Yusei Kikuchi emerging as dependable veterans who can go every 5th day, and if Alek Manoah can manage any resemblance of his 2022 peak, this team will be looking dangerous. Not to mention the recent inclusion of Yariel Rodriguez, who's a bit of a wild card.

But the man with the best chance to be exactly what the Blue Jays need, and more falls to no one else than Berrios, and here's why.

Durability

If one word came to mind when thinking of Berrios, it would be "workhorse". He has not been on the injured list since 2014, which was before he even made his major league debut. Since 2018, Berrios has 1009.1 innings pitched, which is 3rd in the majors. He's an athlete that takes care of his own body tremendously, thus being one of the most dependable starters in the game, who can be trusted to make his starts, while going deep into them.

As the game of baseball progresses, finding a durable starter that consistently gives you elite volume has become more of a rare commodity. Berrios has proven over the course of his career that he can handle a full workload, and will once again be counted on by the Jays to deliver on that front. The consistency to stay healthy, and not force an IL replacement is incredibly valuable to have in a pitcher, so Berrios' presence makes a big difference. His track record and clean bill of health immediately raise his potential, which makes for a very important cog in any rotation.

Pitch Mix

Berrios made some tweaks in his pitch repertoire that paid off well in 2023. He increased the usage of his sinker from 25.9% to 31.5% while the pitch also showed significant improvement. Another big difference was Berrios dropping his 4-seam fastball usage by a wide margin. Berrios threw his 4-seam 7% less last year than he did the year before, primarily because it was his worst pitch that year. Batters torched the fastball, hitting .348 against it with a SLG% of .620. The numbers improved with his individual pitch last season, mostly thanks to Berrios using it less and giving batters more of a different look throughout each at bat. It may still be his weakest pitch, but using it more sparingly helps its effectiveness.

The true bread and butter is Berrios' slurve. It's graded out as his best pitch throughout his career, and he uses it with the most authority. Berrios had a 28.0% K rate with the slurve last year, while rarely getting hit hard at all. His changeup absolutely works as a 4th pitch, which consistently is executed out of the zone, and gives the batters a different look from Berrios' standard arsenal. If Berrios continues these trends in how often he uses certain pitches, there could still be an untapped version of him just waiting to deal over the course of the 2024 season.