Jose Berrios is officially off to a historic start for the Blue Jays in 2024

La Makina has been absolutely lights out to start the season
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

After a very strong bounce-back season in 2023, Jose Berrios is starting right where he left off to begin 2024. Berrios has been stunning, pitching to a 1.23 ERA complete with 28 strikeouts in six starts. In a rotation that has already seen ups and downs after just a few weeks, Berrios' start to the year is very encouraging.

"La Makina" has been a fan favourite ever since joining the team at the 2021 trade deadline. He had an extremely strong season, pitching nearly 200 innings and placing 9th in AL Cy Young voting. As a result, he was named the Opening Day starter the following year. Hopes were high for Berrios, but things ultimately took a turn after an atrocious first start where he allowed four runs in just a third of an inning. It wouldn't stop there, however, as Berrios would go on to have a series of blowups that made him conclude the season with a 5.23 ERA.

The pressure was high going into 2023, it was do-or-die for Berrios. With a long-term extension already inked, the Blue Jays needed a strong #2 if they wanted any chance to compete. Thankfully, Berrios seemed to return to normal, as he finished the year with 189.2 IP at a 3.65 ERA. Now in 2024, Berrios has done nothing but dazzle and amaze. Before his last start (where he allowed 2 ER in 5 IP), Berrios set Jays history by recording the lowest ERA of any starter in their first five starts to begin the season.

There's no doubt Berrios is talented, but why such a hot start? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, he's upped his sinker usage. Berrios' sinker is a historically strong pitch, accumulating 21 RV since 2021. In 2022, Berrios hardly used his sinker compared to his 4-seam, throwing it 25.9%. In 2023, that number rose to 31.9% and now 38.8% in 2024. Berrios' sinker has not only been able to strike out left-handed batters with its inside run but also generate a strong amount of weak groundballs.

The other reason can be attributed to his slurve. Berrios has always been known for his nasty slurve, and this year it's never looked better. His slurve not only has accumulated 2 RV in his six starts but has a Hard Hit% of 31.0, the lowest of his career. Hitters are batting just .136 when he throws it and has a strike-out rate of over 30% at 31.9.

Berrios is slated to make his next start against the red-hot Kansas City Royals. Considering the Blue Jays are off to a slow start after losing a series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, let's hope Berrios can continue his historic start to the year.